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Taking in Sail 



i£ir£y~seVen wood Sng ratings inJuffCofor 
Jacques La Grange 

wxi 6z/ 

Helen La Grange 

Over fifty pen-and-ink drawings and plans of 
ships. Appendices of technical details. elements 
of naval architecture and the art of shipbuilding, 
spar dimensions, abstract logs and other features. 



Copyright, 1936, by 
Jacques La Grange and Helen La Grange 

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, must 
not be reproduced in any form without permission. 

I 3 o 


The engravings have been printed under the 
personal supervision of the artist. 

"Printed in the United States of America 
van rees press, New Yor\ 


Introduction — Grand Gestures in the Face of Time, p. 13 

Ann McKim: Baltimore Clipper Ship — 1833, p. 38 


Rainbow: First Extreme Clipper Ship — 1845, p. 48 


Sea Witch: China Clipper — 1846, p. 59 

Oriental: China Clipper — 1849, p. 65 


Surprise: California Clipper — 1850, p. 70 


Stag Hound: California Clipper — 1850, p. jj 


Game Cock: California Clipper — 1850, p. 86 


John Bertram: California Clipper — 1850, p. 92 

N. B. Palmer: California Clipper — 1851, p. 99 


Witch of the Wave: California Clipper — 1851, p. 106 

Flying Cloud: California Clipper — 1851, p. 11 1 


Challenge: California Clipper — 1851, p. 122 


Nightingale: California Clipper — 1851, p. 136 


Northern Light and Contest: California Clippers — 185 1-2, 

p. 145 


Staffordshire: Transatlantic Packet and California 
Clipper — 1851, p. 153 

Flying Fish and Swordfish: California Clippers — 1851, p. 159 



Sovereign of the Seas: California Clipper — 1852, p. 170 


Westward Ho: California Clipper — 1852, p. 182 

Young America: California Clipper — 1853, p. 191 


Sweepstakes: California Clipper — 1853, p. 199 

Great Republic: California Clipper — 1853, p. 204 


Dreadnought: Clipper Packet — 1853, p. 213 

David Crockett: California Clipper — 1853, p. 218 


Sunny South: California Clipper — 1854, p. 225 


Twilight: California Clipper — 1857, p. 234 


Red Jacket: Australian Clipper — 1853, p. 242 


Lightning: Australian Clipper — 1854, p. 248 


James Baines and Champion of the Seas: Australian 
Clippers — 1854, p. 255 


Stornoway: British Tea Clipper — 1850, p. 264 


Chrysolite: British Tea Clipper — 1851, p. 273 

Taeping and Ariel: British Tea Clippers — 1863-5, P- 2 $ 2 


Sir Lancelot and Leander: British Tea Clippers — 1865-7, 

p. 289 

Titania and Lahloo: British Tea Clippers — 1866-7, P- 2 97 


Thermopylae: British Tea Clipper — 1868, p. 301 


Cutty Sark: British Tea Clipper — 1869, p. 306 


Some Technical Observations, p. 318 


Dimensions of Masts and Spars, p. 364 


Abstract Log of Clipper Ship Surprise: 1857, p. 365 


Abstract Log of the Great Republic: 1855, p.. 368 

Bibliography, p. 369 

Index, p. 371 


List of Wood-Engravings in Color 


'Taking in Sail" frontispiece 

'The Wave" 13 

'Ann McKim" 38 

'Rainbow" 48 

'Sea Witch" 60 

'Oriental" 66 

'Surprise" 70 

'Stag Hound" 78 

'Game Cock" 86 

'John Bertram" 92 

'N. B. Palmer" 100 

'Witch of the Wave" 106 

'Flying Cloud" 112 

'Challenge" 122 

'Nightingale" 136 

Northern Light" and "Contest" 146 

'Staffordshire" 154 

'Flying Fish" and "Swordfish" 160 

'Sovereign of the Seas" 170 


'Westward Ho" 182 

'Young America" 192 

'Sweepstakes" 200 

Great Republic" 204 

'Dreadnought" 214 

'David Crockett" 218 

'Sunny South" 226 

'Twilight" 234 

'Red Jacket" 242 

'Lightning" 248 

'James Baines" and "Champion of 

the Seas" 
'Taeping" and "Ariel" 
'Sir Lancelot" and "Leander" 
'Titania" and "Lahloo" 
'Cutty Sark" 


Lines of Ships, Sail Plans, and Charts 

Lines of the "Ann McKim" 47 

Lines of the "Rainbow" 58 

Chart: Passage of the "Surprise" 76 

Lines of the "Stag Hound" 85 

Lines of the "Gazelle" 105 
Lines of the "Witch of the Wave" no 

Lines of the "Flying Cloud" 121 

Lines of the "Challenge" 135 

Lines of the "Nightingale" 144 

Lines of the "Swordfish" 169 

Lines: "Sovereign of the Seas" 181 

Lines of the "Flying Dutchman" 190 

Lines of the "Young America" 198 

Lines of the "Great Republic" 212 

Lines of the "Andrew Jackson" 233 

Lines of the "Red Jacket" 247 

Sketch of the "Phoenician" 247 

Lines of the "Lightning" 254 

Sketch of the "Marco Polo" 254 

Lines of the "James Baines" 263 

Lines of the "Champion of the Seas" 263 
Lines of the "Transit" 272 

Lines of the "Leander" 296 

Chart: Passages of the "Thermopylae" 305 
Lines of the "Thermopylae" 305 

Lines of the "Cutty Sark" 317 

Clipper and Frigate Bows and Sterns 322 

Taking Off Lines of a Model 
Clipper Ship Deck Plan 
Packet Ship Deck Plan 
Profile of Mast 
Types of Rigs 
Square Sail Plan 

Rigging and Fore-and-Aft Sail Plan 360 
Chart: Sails Commonly Set by the 
Wind 362 


The Wave 


Grand Gestures in the Face of Time 

±he year is 1845, the month is January, and the time is shortly before 
nine o'clock on a Wednesday morning. New Yor\ City is smelling li\e 
the between deckj of an early immigrant packet ship in a storm, but 
neither that nor the broken sidewalks with their sticky coating of 
thawed snow, mud, and filth have kept a crowd from gathering at 
the foot of East Fourth Street to watch the launching of a new ship for 
the China trade. Calamity, or the expectation of it, will draw a crowd 
in any weather. 

Pretty ladies from the upper reaches of Fifth Avenue toss their velvet- 
bonneted heads, and lift their skirts just an inch or two farther above 
the mud than do their calico-clad sisters in the press beside them. 
Bearded gentlemen, who have wandered up from breakjast at the Ton- 
tine Coffee House, are expressing views about the new ship very simi- 
lar to ones held for many months by some of the baize-coated old chaps 
rubbing shoulders next to them. Everybody in the crowd, rich and poor 
ali\e, \nows ships — and in particular knows this ship. Hasn't she been 
a-building on the stocks for two long years and more, and don't they 
whisper that the owners held her bac\ because they thought she 
couldn't sail? One old salt remembers about a vessel built in Baltimore 
that was so sharp that she went completely under at her launching, and 
this one, waiting for her baptism, is far from having the buoyant, bluff 
bows of safety. 

The crowd stamps its feet and blows on cold fingers as it waits to 
hear the word to \noc\ away the dog shores. At last, gun fire from 
somewhere — a sharp cry of ''There I There she goes!" — breaths drawn 

in — and the slender bit of beauty glides rapidly downward li\e a living 



thing, dips slightly as she touches the water, rises, rights herself, and 
gracefully moves away. Men and women roar good-naturedly until 
they are hoarse and thirsty. Later there will be merry-making in the 
mould-loft, and as the crowd disperses with mixed emotions — for, after 
all, nothing untoward had happened — it is blissfully and enormously 
unaware that, on this frosty winter morning, it has witnessed an event 
that will thereafter be referred to in shipping circles as one of astound- 
ing significance. 

An unseen hand turns over a page in the Boo\ of Time and writes 
therein: "This morning from the yard of Smith & Dimon was 
launched a new ship, the Rainbow." Coincident with this is the turn- 
ing point in the history of the American merchant marine: the begin- 
ning of the Era of the Clipper Ship. 

The Rainbow is acknowledged to be the first extreme clipper to sail 
the seas, but none of the distinguished recorders of clipper-ship history 
contends that she emerged complete in every detail and innovation 
from the mind of one man, or in one day. Instead, her growth was like 
the slow blossoming of a flower, nursed into existence and beauty from 
a seed planted by unknown hands in the fertile soil of American imagi- 
nation back in some earlier time. To say that the seed was watered by 
the tears of oppression, that the soil was plowed by the fingers of 
rebellion, and that the clipper ship was the complete and final expres- 
sion of an urge for equality, attended by the growing pains of a desire 
to show superiority, is to give you at once its flower and the germ of 

its decay. 

* * * 

There is some reason to wonder why not all Americans are lovers of 
ships, since, back in the pages of each one's history, a sea passage, dif- 
ferent from all others, and a ship, have played a destiny-changing role; 
yet there is no reason to wonder why Americans have been builders of 
ships, and that they have built them well. One needs only to know that 
America, as a nation and a people, practically sprang from the sea. 


The sea has always been the friend that has brought settlers to the 
New World, but in early days it not only carried them westward but, 
in many cases, furnished food for their very existence. At one time it 
was one of the few roads open for communication with fellow country- 
men and, in the shapely and shapeless rolling lanes of trade, it bore 
upon its surface the very life-lines of a future nation. If, when prodded 
by storms and hurricanes, it was also tempestuous and cruel, it was no 
different from any other supporter of life that patted and punished in- 
termittently. Colonists, explorers, and adventurers alike loved it, hated 
it, and did not hesitate to cope with it. 

Shipbuilding within the confines of the early Americas falls into 
three distinct divisions : ships built for escape, ships built for trade, and 
ships built for protection. 

Into the first division falls the half-legendary story of the repair work 
which Thorwald the Norseman did to his Viking craft in 1004, which 
gave to Cape Cod the Norse name of Kjalarness, or Cape of the Keel; 
and into it also falls the building of the raft — although this can scarcely 
be called a ship — which Nicuesa the Spaniard made in 1509, when he 
was shipwrecked on one of the West India keys. Lope de Olano built 
a caravel at the mouth of the Belen River in 1510, but this was never 
completed; but in the year 15 16 Balboa felled trees on the Pacific side 
of the Isthmus of Panama and out of them constructed four brigantines. 
In 1520 Martin Lopez built two brigantines for Cortez, and in the same 
year constructed thirteen more at Tlaxcala and launched them, April 
28th, upon Lake Tezcuco. 

In 1528 Panfilo de Narvaez, the self-styled Governor of Florida and 
the Mississippi, and his men built five brigantines, each about thirty- 
three feet long, forging their armor and horses' trappings for nails, 
cutting up their horses' manes and tails for cordage, and using their 
shirts for sails. Four of these ships were wrecked off Galveston; the 
fifth was never heard from. In 1542 Luis de Moscoco and the survivors 
of the de Soto party sailed down the Mississippi from the mouth of the 
Arkansas River in several rudely made brigantines; and in 1562 
Nicholas Barre and the French colonists near Beaufort in South Caro- 


Una built an unseaworthy pinnace, sailed out in her for France, and 
were eventually rescued by an English ship which carried them off to 

These ships were rude and could scarcely be called ships, but they 
are representative of the indomitable courage and daring that have 
marked all early American shipbuilding ventures. Few of these ships 
carried their builders to anything but disaster ; but, finally, in the year 
1607 a successful ship of escape was built. This was the little 30-ton 
pinnace Virginia, constructed by the Popham colonists, who included 
Thomas Digby, a master shipbuilder, among their number. When she 
was completed and launched at the mouth of the Kennebec, two-thirds 
of the colonists sailed home in her, and in 1609 she was one of a 
squadron that sailed from Woolwich and Plymouth to Virginia carrying 
the largest group of settlers that had, to that time, forsaken England. 
Aboard one of the ships of this squadron — the Unity — was a member 
of the famous shipbuilding family of Pett.* 

Manhattan was the scene of the next American shipbuilding venture, 
when the lawyer-captain Adrian Block built the 16-ton Onrust to re- 
place the galiot Tiger, when that ship caught fire and burned to the 
water's edge while standing by, in 1613, for a cargo of furs. While the 
ship was building the traders erected rude winter quarters at what is 
now No. 39 Broadway, and when spring came round again the Onrust 
was launched in the waters of the Upper Bay. She was little more than 
a yacht — 38 feet on the keel, 44% on deck, and n 1 /^ on the beam — but 
before going home she explored the coasts of New England and Dela- 
ware Bay, and in 161 6 Captain Hendrickson discovered the Schuylkill 
River in her, and explored nearly the entire coast from Nova Scotia to 
the Capes of Virginia. 

Shipbuilding entered the second division around 1620, when a ship- 
yard was established in Virginia for the purpose of building vessels to 
transport tobacco and produce from farms that stretched for one hun- 
dred and fifty miles up the James River. Four years later a shipbuilder 
established himself among the Plymouth colonists and, though he died 

* See Sovereign of the Seas, page 173 et seq. 


shortly after, managed to complete two shallops — or primitive 
schooners — for the country trade. One of these carried corn to the 
colonists at the mouth of the Kennebec; in the following year it was 
sawed in the middle, lengthened five or six feet, and decked. In 1627 
a pinnace was built at Buzzards Bay for trade with Manhattan, and 
in that year she seems to have represented, together with a bass-boat 
and a shallop, the entire tonnage of New England. It was not until 
1 63 1 that the Massachusetts Colony built their first vessel, the famous 
60-ton Blessing of the Bay, constructed by Master Walter Merry, owned 
by Governor Winthrop, and launched on the 4th of July. The same 
year the 8 00- ton Nieuwe Nederlands, fitted out with 30 guns, was built 
at New Amsterdam by two Belgian shipbuilders, and financed by Peter 
Minuit out of Dutch West India funds. At this time no one in America 
knew what to do with a huge 800-ton ship, and the venture was put 
down as a colossal failure. The expense of her building eventually cost 
Minuit his office, and brought about his recall to Holland. This dis- 
couraged the building of large ships in the colonies for many years. 

In 1632 a Virginia-built ship carried corn to Boston; in 1636 Gover- 
nor Endicott sailed against the Block Island Indians in a vessel built at 
Marble Harbor; in 1639 a Boston ship tried bravely to make its way 
through the Northwest Passage; in 1640 Master Hugh Peter of Salem, 
in the Bay Colony, built a ship, and a little later the Governor of Mas- 
sachusetts wrote in his Journal: "The general fear of want of foreign 
commodities, now our money was gone, and that things were like to 
go well in England, set us working to provide shipping of our own, for 
which Mr. Peter, being a man of public spirit and singular activity for 
all occasions, procured some to join for building a ship at Salem of three 
hundred tons, and die inhabitants of Boston, stirred up by his example, 
set upon the building of another at Boston of one hundred and fifty 
tons. The work was hard to accomplish for want of money, etc.; but 
our shipwrights were content to take such pay as the country could 

Early in the forty-eight years that followed, Massachusetts took the 
lead in the thriving shipbuilding industry that flourished up and down 


the Atlantic coast, and the colonists in time would have had a satisfying 
and lucrative trade to keep it company had not England, suddenly 
aware and afraid, slammed shut the doors of most of the ports of the 
world to them with the British Acts of Trade. 

Spurred into indignant action by these as well as other interferences, 
the Yankee skipper was quick to sense that the derision of time and 
space by means of swifter craft was the best aider and abettor he had in 
enabling him to thumb his nose at the impositions that handicapped his 
enterprise. Speed, upon which the success of American commerce was 
to depend until its need vanished with the vanishing need of the clipper 
ships, began for the first time to assume amazing proportions in the 
Yankee mind, and shipwrights lay awake far into the night to brood 
upon it. With the "long" ships of the past as a guide and the compara- 
tive sailing abilities of contemporary craft to observe, there was always 
something to borrow and add to the ever-growing "store of speed" that 
sharpened the wits and guided the tools of the Yankee builder. 

A dying trade had to be quickened: if it was not legal it must be 
illegal and, with fast ships and "drivers" to man them, smuggling was 
made profitable and, to a people practically worn out by the necessity to 
circumvent accumulating restrictions from home, fairly easy. D. A. 
Wells says that nine-tenths of the colonial merchants and one-fourth of 
the signers of the Declaration of Independence were smugglers; but, 
fast as the ships were, England was faster and, when a committee of 
Parliament was appointed to see what evasive things the colonists had 
contrived to do, the surveyor-general of His Majesty's woods wrote that 
"in this province [New England] many ships are built for the French 
and Spaniards in return for rum, molasses, wine, and silks, which they 
truck there by connivance," and an unknown informer stated that "in 
this province [Pennsylvania] are built many brigantines and small 
sloops, which they sell to the West Indies." England soon tried to put a 
stop to the smuggling but, by means of a circuitous commerce carried 
on with the foreign West Indies, the colonists were able to obtain 
molasses in great quantities, distill it into rum, and exchange it with 
the Indians for furs, sell it to the fishermen at home, and in Nova 


Scotia, Newfoundland, and Quebec, or ship it to Africa in return for 
slaves, gold dust, woods, wax, and gums. To the West India colonies 
they carried their superfluous beef, pork, butter, horses, poultry, to- 
bacco, corn, flour, bread, cider, fish, and apples, cabbages, and onions. 
Candles made of spermaceti, which the whale fisheries furnished, and 
whalebone, were also exported, and there was already a ready market 
for ships themselves which, crude as they were and skimpily built, 
were beginning to take on a distinctive character and to acquire com- 
parative speed. 

Timber was plentiful, and shipbuilding increased. In 1771 alone, 
the thirteen provinces built vessels aggregating 24,068 tons, in the fol- 
lowing order: 

Massachusetts Bay .... 42 ships — 83 sloops, schooners, etc. 

Rhode Island 15 ships — 60 sloops, schooners, etc. 

New Hampshire 15 ships — 40 sloops, schooners, etc. 

Pennsylvania 15 ships — 6 sloops, schooners, etc. 

Virginia 10 ships — 9 sloops, schooners, etc. 

Maryland 10 ships — 8 sloops, schooners, etc. 

New York 9 ships — 28 sloops, schooners, etc. 

Connecticut 7 ships — 39 sloops, schooners, etc. 

South Carolina 3 ships — 4 sloops, schooners, etc. 

Georgia 2 ships — 4 sloops, schooners, etc. 

North Carolina — 8 sloops, schooners, etc. 

New Jersey — 2 sloops, schooners, etc. 

In that same year a total of 108,150 tons cleared to the West Indies, 
107,552 cleared to South America, 98,025 cleared to Great Britain, and 
37,237 cleared to southern Europe. 

The comparative swiftness of these vessels is shown by the fact that 
by 1776 litde ships were built that were capable of logging nine and ten 
knots an hour — a speed that can be considered noteworthy in view 
of the five- or six-knot top speed of the merchantmen of other countries. 
With the best of these little craft under him, the Yankee skipper — 
knowing himself a mere beggar on the porch of trade — soon turned 
from smuggling to open rebellion, and finally to war. In those 


harrowing early years of the American Revolution, with events shoot- 
ing thick and fast down the rapids into an ever-widening stream of 
time, cuteness, courage, and the will to leave caution far behind on a 
receding shore contributed their factors towards developing men of the 
breed of the later clipper captains. 

On November ioth, 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress 
passed a law for the purpose of granting letters-of-marque and reprisal, 
courts of admiralty were established thereafter, Washington equipped 
five or six armed vessels, and all along the coast from north to south 
little privateers were fitted out to go against the enemy. Earlier in the 
year the British sloop-of-war Falcon was taken by the seamen of New 
Bedford, the King's sloop Margaretta was taken by the seamen of 
Machias, and the London brigantine Nancy was captured by the 
American schooner Lee. In December Congress passed an act authoriz- 
ing the building of thirteen ships, six of which were built in New 
England, two in New York, four in Pennsylvania, and one in Mary- 
land; and, with these, the beginning of the American Navy, shipbuild- 
ing entered into its third division: ships built for protection. 

There are instances which distinguish the part played by American 
ships during the early days of the Revolution, but for the most part 
they were hopelessly outclassed by the superior size and armament of 
the British vessels. Before the treaty with France in 1778, and before 
the arrival of the French fleet in American waters, the United States 
captured six hundred British vessels and lost nine hundred. The cap- 
tures were, however, noteworthy, and it is well to remember that they 
were largely brought about by the agility exercised in seizing the richly 
laden British merchantmen before enemy ships-of-the-line could inter- 
fere. After 1778 a number of ships were built at home for the Navy, 
new ones were purchased, .and several more were constructed in France. 
During the same year Paul Jones was out terrorizing the seaport towns 
of England, Captain Barry engaged in, and escaped from, a seven-hour 
encounter with two English vessels off Maine, and Captain Silas Talbot 
made his successful attack upon the schooner Pigot, which, until then, 


had prevented the landing of supplies and re-enforcements at Rhode 

During the course of the war the fifty war vessels equipped by Con- 
gress played their part with daring and alacrity, but no ships and men 
were more noted for either quality than the more than five hundred 
little letters-of-marque and privateers fitted out by the "states" and 
manned by the type of men that preferred the mixed adventure of 
irregularity to the petty depotism that hedged the life of a man-of- 
war's man. Jonathan Haraden and the General Pickering were sam- 
ples of just such men and just such ships. Haraden, who as captain of 
the fourteen-gun sloop Tyrannicide had helped to capture a British 
naval vessel earlier in the war, was out in 1780 in the 180-ton Pickering, 
with fourteen six-pounders and a crew of forty-five men and boys, when 
he ran in with a British cutter of 20 guns. Haraden was on his way to 
Bilbao with a cargo of sugar at the time, but he beat off the British ship 
and later, on entering the Bay of Biscay, impudently ordered a British 
privateer carrying twenty-two guns and sixty men to "surrender to an 
American frigate or be sunk." The British ship did surrender, surpris- 
ingly enough, only in turn to be retaken by the Achilles, a fairly large 
British vessel carrying forty-two guns and manned by a crew of a hun- 
dred and forty. The following morning the General Pickering and the 
Achilles fought it out again, and Haraden recaptured his prize. 

It was incidents such as this, and men such as Haraden, that caused 
insurance on British ships to mount twenty-three percent in those 
years; yet the quality of defiance and dare-deviltry that characterized 
the actions of master and man had been aged in the people up and 
down the Atlantic coast for many years before it was brought to a 
focus in wartime. In 171 8 it was a group of Virginians who, under 
Maynard, subdued the notorious pirate "Blackbeard" ; in 1744 it was 
a group of New York fishermen who burnt the boats of an English 
frigate in New York harbor, in a burst of animosity towards English 
press-gangs; in 1750, it was the young Ricketts of New Jersey who 
sailed under the guns of the British man-of-war Greyhound with their 
own "Birdgee" flag flying in open defiance; in 1757 it was a Boston 


sailor who thrashed the commander of a British man-of-war for spying 
upon the sailors; and in 1772 it was a group of Providence sailors, 
headed by Abraham Whipple, who embarked in their open whale- 
boats and burned the British warship sent out to enforce certain tyran- 
nical laws. The whole of America's confidence in the saving graces 
of speed, as pitted against power, is summed up in the correspondence 
that followed between Sir James Wallace and Whipple. Wallace wrote : 
"You Abraham Whipple on the 17th of June, 1772, burnt his Maj- 
esty's vessel the Gaspee, and I will hang you to the yard arm." All 
of America at the time might have been answering through Whipple 
when he replied: "Sir — Always catch a man before you hang him." 

Preliminary peace articles between the United States and Great 
Britain were signed at Paris, November 30, 1782, and the peace eventu- 
ally arrived the following year. On the 25th of November, 1783, the 
British troops evacuated New York City, and the following day Riv- 
ington's Gazette published a short account of the event: 

"Yesterday in the Morning the American Troops marched from 
Haerlem, to the Bowery-Lane — They remained there until about One 
o'clock, when the British Troops left the Posts in the Bowery, and 
the American Troops marched into, and took Possession of the City." 

Immediately following the dinner given that day by the governor 
at Fraunces's Tavern, the first toast proposed was to the United States 
of America, and the second to "His Most Christian Majesty." America 
could well afford to drink both toasts. The war was over and she was, 
for the first time, free to make whatever progress she chose, in what- 
ever way she chose, and build as she wished upon the ashes. The 
original navy of thirteen vessels — the Washington, Raleigh, Hancoc\, 
Congress, Boston, Providence, Delaware, Randolph, Warren, Trum- 
bull, Virginia, Effingham, and Montgomery — was practically de- 
stroyed, trade and commerce had been weakened materially in the 
war years, agriculture was almost ruined, and the country was in 


debt. But above all, she was free. New ports of the world were opened 
to her vessels, together with trade's attendant bitter competition, and 
the young country was anxious to prosecute her hard-won victory. 
Numerous little craft, spurred by the example of the ship Empress of 
China, which sailed to Macao in 1784, put out to sea — pathetically 
small and fearlessly eager — to carry the Yankee colors into faraway 
and unknown seas. 

A little later there were other signs of Yankee progress, pregnant 
with meaning. On January 9, 1785, Madison wrote to Jefferson: 
"J- Rumsey, by a memorial to the last session, represented that he had 
invented a mechanism by which a boat might be worked with little 
labor, at the rate of 25 to 40 miles a day, against a stream running at 
the rate of 10 miles an hour " 

In 1786 the little sailing ship Columbia carried the colors around 
the globe; in 1787 Rumsey exhibited, on the Potomac, a boat which 
was propelled by means of a steam pump forcing a jet of water from 
the stern, and Fitch made a successful trip on the Delaware in a 
vessel 45 feet long and 12 feet on the beam, with a 12-inch cylinder 
engine; in 1790 the Revenue-Cutter Service was organized and Con- 
gress appropriated $23,327.50 to support ten equipped cutters — small, 
sharp-built, single-masters — with a complement of ten masters, thirty 
mates, forty mariners, and twenty boys;* in 1794 Congress authorized 
the formation of another navy; and in the same year young Orlando 
Merrill of Newburyport perfected the waterline model which was to 
revolutionize the science of shipbuilding.** 

Great Britain and the United States entered into peaceful trade 
negotiations, and exporting and importing on both sides were resumed 
with a great show of activity. The King by proclamation removed all 
legal restraints upon intercourse with the United States, and, during 
the six years between 1784 and 1790, English custom-house returns 
showed the following state of affairs : 

* The first regular armed cruiser in American history was a vessel carrying ten guns 
and forty men, built by the colonies of Hartford and New Haven in 1646 to cruise on 
Long Island Sound and prevent encroachments of the Dutch. 

** See Appendix, page 332. 


Exports to Imports into 

Great Britain United States 

1784 £ 743,345 £3670467 

i7 8 5 893,594 2,308,023 

i7 86 843,119 1,603,465 

1787 893,637 2,009,111 

1788 1,023,789 1,886,142 

1789 1,050,198 2,525,298 

179° M9W 1 3>43 I >77 8 

The excess of British goods into the United States over American 
exports to Great Britain was in turn balanced by the French decrees 
of 1787 admitting American produce free of duty; and thereafter 
rice, barley, wheat, flour, and rye were carried across the Atlantic 
to France in great quantities. England was badly in need of timber, 
as were the West Indies, Portugal, and Spain, and, with the inven- 
tion of Whitney's cotton gin, exports of cotton increased with starding 
rapidity. In 1791 the entire export of cotton from the United States 
was 189,316 pounds; four years later it had mounted to over six 
million pounds. Ships were needed for this remarkably increased 
carrying trade, and the figures tell the story: in 1789 the registered 
tonnage of American-built ships was 123,893, in 1790 it was 346,254, 
and in 1791 it was over five times what it had been two years before, 
or 669,921 tons. 

In the outside world the march of major events went on. The 
Napoleonic wars came to leave their trail of wreckage over Europe, 
and America, as a neutral nation, carried cargoes to all the belligerents, 
and was called upon, as well, to carry Spanish, French, and English 
goods to the West Indies. At this time the ships of William Gray of 
Boston were navigating every sea, and it is said that, when his captains 
carried fish to the West Indies, each hung up a stocking in the cabin 
of his ship, placed in it the proceeds of sales, purchased rum, molasses, 
and sugar in turn, paid the cost out of the stocking, and returned 
home with a neat balance intact. No books were used, and none were 
wanted; the stocking answered every purpose. In New York John 


Jacob Astor plotted out voyages to the northwest coast and laid out 
schemes that it took ten years to bring to maturity. Philadelphia had 
Stephen Girard who, in 1791, ordered the beautiful ships Montes- 
quieu, Helvetius, Voltaire, and Rousseau for his trade to Calcutta 
and China; and in Baltimore were the Pattersons in the van of the 
shipping commerce of that city. 

During these years America was tasting, for the first time, a lively 
trade and generous profits, only to find herself, in turn, harried by 
the pirate craft of every nation, or her ships, men, and cargo seized 
by France and England, both of whom had established block- 
ades. War between England and the United States at that time was 
narrowly averted by Jay's Treaty and the payment, by England, of 
ten million dollars' indemnity; and French complaints to the treaty 
were ended in 1800. In 1806, however, England declared that Europe 
was in a state of blockade from the Elbe to Brest. Napoleon at once 
retaliated, and the United States, in a frantic effort to save her ships, 
declared an embargo on outgoing shipping, with the result that to 
the danger of running blockades was added the sport of evading the 
law. The need for speedy ships continued, and a large traffic was 
constandy carried on. Hot words passed between the American people 
and their government, and hotter words were bandied back and forth 
across the Atlantic. France, after the marriage of Miss Patterson of 
Baltimore to Jerome Bonaparte in 1803 brought about the admission 
of many a valuable cargo into that country, practically passed out of 
the picture so far as any objections to other blockades were concerned. 
But on June 19, 18 12, war relations between the United States and 
Great Britain were resumed, and the people of America — forgetting 
for the moment their differences at home — banded together to fight 
for their right to the freedom of the seas. 

During these years inland tonnage increased enormously, but 
large numbers of American seamen who had manned American mer- 
chant ships, nevertheless, found themselves out of employment,* and 
they at once crowded into the navy or into litde privateers. These men 

* American tonnage at this time was over one million tons. 


were of a caliber well known to England when she had sought to 
impress them into her own ships, but Nelson's victories were still 
fresh in American minds, and it is said that Congress, fearing the 
results of matching naval wits with England, wanted to send the 
government ships up the river out of reach of the English cruisers. 
The officers of the navy thought differently, however, and at length 
prevailed upon Congress to let them go to sea. In seven months' time 
five hundred British merchantmen were taken, and, among the frigates 
ordered by Congress just before the quasi- war with France in 1798- 
1801, the Constitution* won undying fame for herself with her kill 
of eighteen English men-of-war. 

One of the most important parts in the War of 18 12 was that 
played by the privateers — speedy little brigs, brigantines, fore-and-aft 
and topsail schooners, none bigger than two hundred tons — that 
swarmed out of Baltimore and other ports up and down the Adantic 
coast. An article in the Boston Daily Journal, published some years 
later, gives a rather complete account of the speed and sailing quali- 
ties of these, the Baltimore clippers and the pilot boat type of craft, 
and for this reason is reproduced here, almost in its entirety. The 
writer, who signs himself with the very nautical name "Hawser Mar- 
tingale," says: 

"The pilot boats belonging to Baltimore and other ports of the 
Chesapeake, have ever been celebrated for their sailing qualities, and 
especially for their ability to beat to windward, and vessels of larger 
size than the pilot boats, even reaching to the capacity of upwards 
of three hundred tons, but built according to the 'pilot boat' model, 
were for many years regarded as the swiftest class of sailing vessels, 
especially in light or moderate winds, that have been built in any 

* It may be of interest to those who are interested in the possibility of French influence 
over the design of the frigates of this class, and to whom physical characteristics speak 
louder than birth certificates, to note that the Constitution, in particular, possessed the 
ease and stability of platform (stability of platform being considered one of the most 
important achievements of naval science as far as warships are concerned) which char- 
acterized the old French vessels of M. Sane and to which was attributed the manner 
in which Sane gave effect to the tumble-home side, low shifting center (metacenter), 
and low center of gravity. 


country at any period. At what particular time the merits of the model 
became known, it may perhaps be difficult to ascertain; but as early 
as the year 1809, the term 'Baltimore clippers,' as applied to schooners 
and brigs of a particular model, built in Baltimore, was a familiar 
term — and numbers of them were sold to individuals belonging to 
the belligerent powers of that time and commissioned as privateers; 
others were purchased for slavers, and during the wars carried on 
by Spain and Portugal with their provinces in South America, the 
Baltimore-built private-armed vessels made a conspicuous figure, to the 
great detriment of the commerce of those European nations, which 
was terribly cut up by vessels and men, in some cases actually belong- 
ing to a nation which held out to them the olive branch of peace! 

"I happened to be in the West Indies in the year 18 10, and there 
was much talk in the islands of a French privateer schooner of the 
genuine Baltimore pilot boat model, called La Superior. This privateer 
was commanded by a remarkably able and energetic Frenchman, who 
took a singular pleasure in inflicting injuries on the British commerce 
in those seas; indeed, the amount of the British property he destroyed 
was enormous. The privateer, which was fitted out at St. Pierre in 
Martinico, was said to have been the fastest sailing vessel ever known 
among the windward islands; and her commander laughed to scorn 
the repeated attempts made to capture him by the finest vessels in the 
English navy. Indeed, the Superior seemed to be almost ubiquitous — 
one day she would be seen hovering off the Island of Antigua, 
and after pouncing upon some unfortunate English ship, would take 
out the valuables and specie, if any on board, transfer the officers 
and crew to a drogher bound into the harbor, and then scuttle the 
vessel. On the day following, a ship would be seen on fire off Mont- 
serrat or St. Kitts, which on inquiry would prove to be an English 
merchantman captured and destroyed by La Superior — and perhaps 
a few days afterwards she would be pursuing a similar career on the 
shores of Barbadoes, far to windward, Grenada or Trinidad. 

"This privateer, La Superior, was to the Englishmen, the terror of 
those seas. Indeed her sailing qualities were a marvel to all old salts 
— and many an honest man, who had never heard of a 'Baltimore 
pilot boat built' craft, was sorely puzzled to account for the success 
of this privateer in avoiding the many traps which had been set for 
her by the long-headed British officers on that station. With many, 


the conclusion finally arrived at was that the Captain of the privateer 
had unlawful dealings with the great enemy of mankind, and for 
the malignant pleasure of annoying the English, and the gratification 
of filling his pockets with the spoils of the most redoubtable enemies 
of France, he had signed away his soul 

"At last, one after another, every French port in the West India 
Islands was captured by the British, and there was no longer a nook 
belonging to France in those islands to which this privateer could 
resort for protection . . . and one fine morning the Captain of the Brit- 
ish sloop of war Ringdove, which was then cruising between Nevis 
and St. Bartholomew, was actually astonished at beholding the Supe- 
rior — that 'rascally French Privateer' — for she was as well known, 
in those seas, as the Flying Dutchman is off the Cape of Good Hope — 
come down from the windward side of St. Bartholomew under easy 
sail, pass round the southern point of the island, hoist the tri-colored 
flags as if by way of derision, and boldly enter the harbor of this 
island, belonging to the Swedish government, and at that time, of 
course, a neutral port! 

"It was not many hours, before the Ringdove, having hauled her 
wind, was off the harbor, lying off and on, and the Captain, in 'full 
rig,' . . . was going ashore in a great state of excitement. But when he 
reached the landing, he found to his utter disappointment and con- 
fusion only the hull, with the spars and rigging of the privateer, left. 
. . . The schooner was hauled up to the head of the canash and on 
examination it was found that every part of the vessel had been so 
strained by carrying sail, and that so much damage had been caused 
to her planks and timbers by worms, that she was good for nothing. 
The spars, sails and rigging were sold, but the hull, which soon filled 
with water, remained there for years, and was gready admired by 
every genuine sailor as the most perfect model of a fast-sailing vessel 
that could be devised by the ingenuity of man." 

As far as the English vessels were concerned, nearly all the Ameri- 
can privateers of the War of 1812 seem to have had "unlawful deal- 
ings with the great enemy of mankind for the malignant pleasure of 
annoying the English," and the tales of the prizes they captured are 
legion. The outcome of the war should have been easily predicted. 
The officers of the American Navy — men like Hull, Perry, Lawrence, 


Decatur, and Bainbridge — were extremely capable, and the American 
frigates, with their well-cut sails, were superior to those of Britain; 
and what was probably most important of all and more overwhelm- 
ingly in favor of American victory was the fact that the Americans 
had regular sights to their cannon, which the British had not. This 
factor alone would have given any little ship an excessive advantage 
over a large one. The naval battles of 18 12 are one long story of shots 
that missed on the part of the British, and shots by the Americans 
that nearly always found their mark. 

By 1 8 14, when the Treaty of Ghent was signed and the war came 
to a close, both Great Britain and the United States realized that little 
had been gained, or ever could be gained, by the re-opening of an old 
wound of animosities. True, the United States acquired her coveted 
freedom of the seas, and not only had a lusty, rapidly growing trade 
to look after, but a navy to protect it. Taking stock in what must have 
seemed an unusual calm after a siege of storms, the young nation, 
now a power among nations, began to search her harbors with inquir- 
ing eyes, and saw that, no matter how well they had served in the 
past, her ships, lying freightless at her docks, were totally unfit for a 
commercial life of new dimensions. Accommodations for passenger 
traffic also presented a problem, since the American public, having 
learned through two wars that it could stand sturdily on its own two 
feet, now wanted to travel, and on the other side of the Atlantic men 
and women were turning hopeful faces westward. In a nation in which, 
to i860, the majority of fortunes were made in shipping, it was only 
natural that the men chiefly interested should rise equal to every 

Then as now the bulk of commerce was taking the transatlantic 
route to Europe, and out of a whirl of activity and shipbuilding that 
followed the War of 18 12, two events that cast shadows on the north 
Atlantic were to project their influence far into the future. One was 
the crossing to Liverpool in May, 18 19, of America's pioneer steam- 
ship, the Savannah, and the other, which preceded the Savannah by 
one year and a few months, was the passage of the less than 400-ton 


sailing ship fames Monroe. The latter was America's first ocean 
"liner," and with it the famous pioneer Black Ball Line of Packets 
was established. For the first time in history sailing dates were fixed 
and kept, and some attempt was made to take the impromptu building 
of sleeping accommodations, and the dispensing of medicines and of 
fuel for cooking, out of the hands of "Chips," the carpenter. The suc- 
cess of the new endeavor soon brought demands for larger ships. 
Cargo space was increased at some sacrifice to speed, and passenger 
accommodations were made as luxurious as the ingenious minds of 
shipowner and builder could, at that date, imagine. Live stock in great 
variety was carried to supply food, and later hot rolls replaced the 
"finer" type of ship's biscuit on the menus of the cabin class. 

In time the Red Star, the Swallow Tail, and the Dramatic lines 
entered the competition; Philadelphia established its Cope Line; and 
Boston became noteworthy for the White Diamond Line of Enoch 
Train. Speed was once again becoming essential, and it was not long 
before the various lines were fighting to establish reputations for mak- 
ing the quickest crossing. Passengers wanted to travel within the 
breath-taking average to Liverpool, and mails and specie must be 
delivered quickly; and so the packet captains, sprung from a back- 
ground of a people drawn in blood and sweat, drove their ships to a 
point just beyond that of breaking, patched up their damages as they 
went along, and — by getting there somehow — got there quickly. A 
speeded-up motion picture of a passage on one of these ships would 
reveal a succession of broken spars, torn sails, and men dashed help- 
lessly from the rigging. But if men went, they went. Since the very 
beginning of commerce, fortunes have been made out of man-killing 
enterprises, and the packet period was no different from any other. 
Progress cannot stop to take toll of the losses, nor can statistics show 
whether the weight of battered human flesh on the one side of the 
scale equals or far exceeds the weight of gold on the other. The packet 
ships were very profitable. 

The packet ships of 1836 merited this insertion in M'Culloch's Com- 
mercial Dictionary — a British publication: 


"The establishment of regular lines of packets from New York to 
foreign ports, and also every principal port in the United States, has 
produced a new era in the commerce of the city, and redounded equally 
to the benefit of the enterprising individuals by whom they were 
projected, and the public. The principal intercourse is carried on with 
Liverpool; there being about 20 packet ships, distributed in 4 lines, 
employed at present [1836] in maintaining a regular communication 
with that port. A dozen packet ships are also employed in the trade 
between New York and London; and 15 in the trade between New 
York and Havre. These ships vary in size from 450 tons, the burden 
of the smallest, to 800 tons. Their tonnage has latterly been increas- 
ing; and, at an average, it may now be estimated at about 600 tons. 
These ships are all American property, and built chiefly in New York. 
They are probably the finest and fastest sailing merchant vessels in 
the world ; being beautifully modelled, of the best workmanship, and 
fitted up with every convenience for passengers, and in the most expen- 
sive style. The safety, regularity, and expedition with which they per- 
form their voyages is quite astonishing. The average length of a voyage 
from Liverpool and Portsmouth to New York, may be estimated at 
about 34 days, and, from the latter to the former, at about 20 days. 
The Independence, of 730 tons, Captain Nye, made the voyage from 
New York to Liverpool, in the course of the present year, in 14 days; 
and the Toronto of 650 tons, Captain Griswold, made the voyage 
from New York to Portsmouth in the same time. And it is material 
to observe, that these voyages are not reckoned from land to land, but 
from port to port. 

"The packet ships from New York sail from London on the 7th, 
17th, and 27th; and from Portsmouth, or rather Cowes, at which place 
they touch, on the 1st, 8th, 16th, and 24th of each mondi; those bound 
for New York from Havre sail on the same days as those from Liver- 

"Cabin passage to New York from London and Liverpool 35 
guineas; from New York to London and Liverpool 140 dollars; a 
cabin passage to New York from Havre 140 dollars, from New York 
to Havre, the same. This includes provisions, wines, beds, etc., so that 
the passengers have no occasion to provide anything except personal 

"Packets for Philadelphia sail from Liverpool on the 8th and 20th 


of every month throughout the year; and 4 of these ships sail from 
Philadelphia for Liverpool on the 20th of each month; the others do 
not always return direct for Liverpool, but sometimes go to Charleston, 
Savannah, etc., to bring cargoes of produce to Liverpool. 

"Cabin passage same as that to and from New York. 

"These ships, 8 in number, are all American built and owned, and 
average about 500 tons burden; some of them are as splendid as the 
New York packets, and all are fitted up with every regard to comfort. 

"Three American packet ships are employed in the trade between 
New York and the Clyde; and an American packet ship sails from 
Liverpool for Boston twice every month. 

"The rate of steerage passage varies, in the course of the year, con- 
siderably; depending upon the number of ships and the number of 
passengers going at the time. By the packet ships it fluctuates from 3 
to 6 guineas for each full-grown person; and children under 14 years 
are taken at half-price. By other ships the rate of steerage passage 
varies, at Liverpool, from il. 10s. to 5L; being sometimes reduced, 
by competition, so low as 30s.; but the average rate may be taken 
at 4I. For these rates, the ship provides nothing but berths, fire, and 
water; the passengers provide their own provisions, bedding, etc. The 
expense of provision for a poor person, who might wish to be as eco- 
nomical as possible, for the voyage out to the United States, would not 
be more than from 40s. to 50s 

"It has been proposed to establish steam packets between New York 
and Valentia harbour, on the west coast of Ireland; but as yet little 
progress has been made in the undertaking. It may be doubted, in- 
deed, seeing how well the intercourse is maintained by the sailing 
packets, whether the introduction of steam packets would be of material 

In the meantime, as the ocean "liners" shuttled back and forth 
across the Atlantic, the form of the cotton carriers, which had been 
built on the kettle-bottom plan, under the old length-by-breadth ton- 
nage rules, was altered to suit packet requirements, when they began 
to pick up passengers as return cargo from Havre. The West India 
trade at this time was cut off because of Britain's refusal to open her 
ports there. But Baltimore continued to build small schooners, brigs, 
and similar craft long after New York and other northern towns had 


turned their attention elsewhere, and there was still a flourishing trade 
in coffee and fruits' from Rio, and slave-running; and out in the China 
seas there were always money-making cargoes. 

While these events were taking place on the western side of the 
Adantic and the government of the United States was swelling its reve- 
nues by leveling a series of tariffs on importations, England, home 
from her many wars and looking over her domestic assets, hit upon a 
happy solution for many of her financial problems, not by leveling 
tariffs, but by holding out inducements, in the way of easy entry and 
advanced payments on merchandise, to attract to her doors the prod- 
ucts of the world. In this way she became a general warehouse for 
outfitting ships with assorted cargoes, part of which were composed 
of the products of Asia, Africa, America, and the Continent, and part 
of which were made up of British manufactures ; and, with the money 
advanced on incoming products, she also became the banker — a situa- 
tion which was eventually to end in an American panic. Her own 
merchant marine at this time, save for the ships of the British East 
India Company which were favored by the monopoly of trade in the 
Orient, was slowly being throttled. British colonial trade was still 
restricted to British ships, but sUipid tonnage laws encouraged a type 
of ship that was better known for its ability to wallow on its belly than 
to sail ; the corking up of the lucrative Eastern trade, with the Honour- 
able John Company holding the only corkscrew, was as good as a 
knife in the back to other enterprise; and ships themselves, protected 
by heavy insurance rates, were rotting away in the harbors from sheer 
neglect. An investigation was ordered for the purpose of looking into 
these conditions, and in 1832 commerce with the Orient was thrown 
open to all British ships, and the lofty frigates of the British East India 
Company, with their three hundred percent profits and leisurely jour- 
neys, were soon swept from the seas. 

The year before, little British schooners had ferreted out another 
lucrative trade in the east — the smuggling of opium into China out 


of India. In 1833, the year the Ann McKim was launched in Balti- 
more, the little English schooner Jamesina sold three hundred and 
thirty thousand pounds' worth of the drug from India's poppied fields, 
and American merchants heard the tinkle of the silver coins all the 
way to New York and Boston. In 1841 and '42 the Angola and other 
American clipper-schooners, heavily armed, were racing eastward to 
pick up opium cargoes, beat their way against heavy head seas into 
the Chinese Ladrones, ride out the treacherous typhoons, fight off 
Mandarins justly worried over the future of China, keep a weather 
eye open for pirates, dump their cargoes on lonely shores, collect enor- 
mous profits, and fly away again to face new danger from yellow hands 
that reached out to seize and steal and slaughter. Opium-running in 
sailing ships yielded handsome returns for almost twenty years, when 
the ships were superseded by steam. 

The regular China trade, composed principally of traffic in tea, silks, 
dark brown sugars, and other exotics commanding luxury prices at 
home, had always attracted the aristocracy of the merchant marine 
both in America and in England. Prior to the Revolutionary War this 
type of merchandise came to America only through England or was 
smuggled under English noses and bowsprits from her competitors; 
but after America had won her freedom she sent her own ships, as we 
have seen, direct to the China shores. In spite of the fact that trade 
with that country was greatly restricted and not encouraged by the 
Mandarins, competition soon grew up among the American ships, and 
there was always, in ship designing, some attempt to combine speed 
with cargo-carrying capacity. England, until the Honourable John 
Company lost its monopoly, and even for some time after, continued 
to bring home such merchandise on the tall, frigate-built Indiamen 
which, elegant and grand as they were, disdained the thought of hurry 
much as a dowager duchess would have disdained an invitation to 
join in a potato race. In America, where speed had from the very 
earliest days been bound up inextricably with trade, a few captains 
and shipbuilders plunged their hands deep into a bagful of tricks and 
began to pull out record passages. 


Record passages became the rage. 

In 1842 the Ann McKim passed Java Head and reached Anjier 79 
days out from New York; in 1843 the Natchez swelled with pride over 
a 92-day passage from Canton to New York; in 1844 the packet 
Helena covered the same distance in two days fewer; and in 1845 
China opened five new treaty ports and the Rainbow was flung into the 
sailing-ship competition. 

The clipper-ship era was in full swing when, into a world grown 
dizzy in an attempt to make Speed synonymous with Progress, three 
major events burst forth like rockets to tear down whole walls of time 
and theory, and to spatter, in their passing, shower upon shower of 
shining bubbles that mirrored within their depths a miser's frenzied 
dreams of plenty. 

The first rocket struck on January 24, 1848, when the New-Jersey- 
born James Marshall saw something glittering in a ditch in California, 
and found that it was gold. 

The second rocket struck in 1849 when England, after a bitter 
struggle with Parliament, flung open her doors of trade without re- 
strictions to every nation in the world. 

The third rocket, as if flung by a hand gone drunk with prodigality, 
struck in faraway Australia in March, 1850 — and the news that trav- 
eled forth screamed gold again — more gold ! 

The race was on in earnest. 

Never before nor since has the world seen anything like the sensa- 
tional years that followed. Relentless as a plague, gold-seekers swept 
forward to California, breaking their backs and their hearts on the 
way; starving, thirsting, and cholera-ridden they stopped by the way- 
side to bury their dead, and then swept onward again, singing their 
little songs about Susannah, and keeping their gaze fixed westward 
to a point where the sun goes down in a burst of golden glory. 

Clipper ships tore round the Horn and beat a racetrack in the 
mocking, iridescent waters. In Australia, men mad with new-found 


riches were scattering gold on the decks of incoming ships; while 
others ashore, equally bereft of their senses, flashed whooping up and 
down in gayly decorated carriages, each blazing with the vivid Union 
Jack. Eastward, where brightly colored junks and sampans lay like 
beadwork on the fringe of China, tall clippers hurled into port for 
cargo, and once loaded were quickly out again, recklessly eager to be 
in England with the first teas of the season. The tide was running high 
on every shore, and ships were riding in with it. 

The hammer notes of ten thousand men rang from the shipyards 
sprawled along New York's East River, and up and down the north 
Atlantic coast town after town hummed and boomed with industry. 
Man seemed to rival Nature in a perfect orgy of inspired invention 
and turned out sleek thoroughbred after sleek thoroughbred, whose 
long white arms stretched outward to embrace the breeze and draw 
into themselves the very essence of moving, pulsing life. Captains, 
hanging up new records, were mobbed and feted and idolized. 

Honors and gifts were heaped upon the honest-faced "old man" who 
developed an eerie instinct for knowing to the last split second when 
to reef or take in sail, and who was capable of an acetylene-torch-blue 
stare that could burn into the pit of a rebellious sailor's stomach and 
animate his arms and legs like those of a clockwork doll; and rafters 
rang with praise for the damn-your-eyes maniac for speed, who rode 
his ship like a fiend atop a whirlwind. In modest and pretentious 
homes, in ballrooms under the gaslight flares, over bars in the best 
cafes, in dance halls and bordellos of the waterfront, hands were raised 
and toasts were drunk to the latest fancy of them all : the fleetest clipper 
queen. Those were the fabulous 'fifties — an age that was almost eoic in 
its madness. 

For over twenty years the eyes of a world-wide audience were on the 
seas watching a rapid change of scene in which lust and cruelty, 
courage and heroic daring, played their parts. And always through 


it all there passed, like a recurrent melody, the haunting, heart- 
breaking beauty of the clipper ship. 

In America the Civil War changed all that. A few short years of 
strife, depredations by the Alabama and her kind, and the backbone 
of the American merchant marine was broken. England tried to carry 
on, and succeeded nobly in staging some of the most thrilling races 
the world has seen. But by 1869 a Khedive in Egypt had commissioned 
an Italian composer to write the lovely China clipper's swan-song. On 
November 17 of that year the Suez Canal was opened, and the clip- 
pers that were not defeated by what the sailors called "that dirty 
ditch" soon yielded precedence to steam, while a fickle public hummed 
the music from A'ida. After that the remaining clippers went to Aus- 
tralia for the wool trade, though even there in time the old wooden 
ships were no longer wanted — an iron door was closed upon them. 

As far as the world of ships was concerned, the reign of the clipper 
was over. 

Today the same breezes blow that blew sixty, seventy, eighty years 
ago, the waters roll upon the shore, and the bones of countless clip- 
pers stir restlessly on the ocean's bed. Old captains sleep in quiet grave- 
yards where the grass grows green, or are one with the elements they 
loved and fought so earnestly. And yet it seems as if their footsteps 
ring out upon the quarter-deck as they steer their ships across the years 
into the port of a poet's dream, and a red-shirted sailorman starts a 
chanty to stir the heart of the romanticist with the silent drumbeats 
of a vanished ecstasy. 

Their ships are still making grand gestures in the face of Time. 


Baltimore Clipper Ship 
1833 ' 


t would be both logical and interesting to open a record of the 
clipper ship with a true account of the origin of the name, a descrip- 
tion of the ship to which it was first applied, and fully documented 
evidence of the vessel that revolutionized the lines of the mid-nine- 
teenth-century cargo-carriers, and was responsible for the world-wide 
acceptance of nineteenth-century American ship design; in fact, such a 
beginning would be litde short of amazing to all those who have spent 
years, or even hours, of vain research among dusty files and yellowed 
papers for a trace of those mysterious and elusive factors. 

The self-explanatory term "clipper" was, apparently, first applied 
to the heavily sparred fast vessels of Baltimore some time prior to the 
War of 1 8 12, but craft of this type — brig-rigged and schooner-rigged 
for the most part, and only occasionally ship-rigged * — are not to be 
confused with the true clipper ships of the forties, fifties, and sixties. 
The origin of the name itself is lost in the past; and, judging from 
the various types of ships put forward from time to time as the "first" 
clipper, together with the number of conflicting statements that account 
for the influence of such vessels, it would seem that the original ship 
is also lost in the past, or that she never existed save in the theoretical 
ideal towards which coundess builders worked — an ideal composed of 
a blend of speed and capacity, of weatherliness and great beauty. 

To take a few facts as one finds them, and to use them for the pur- 
pose of bludgeoning a reader into an acceptance of one's own preju- 

* See sail plans, Appendix I, page 354. 


zAnn zJWcK/m 


dices, is to evade an issue; facts, as any law court knows, can be 
twisted most convincingly to suit the purpose in hand; and history 
generally obliges the seeker of truths not only with isolated slivers of 
evidence, but also with their contradiction. Tradition, because of this, 
is one of the hardest things in the world to budge, and since the influ- 
ence of the Baltimore-built Ann McKim over the design of the clipper 
ship is traditional rather than certain, she holds, from this standpoint, 
an important if widely contested place in clipper-ship history, and 
justly merits initial consideration. 

There are three principal claims put forward in favor of the Ann 
McKim as either the first clipper ship or the immediate ancestor of 
the clipper : the first is, that she was the earliest large vessel to combine 
a ship's rig and sail-expanse with the improved-upon and fined-down 
lines of a small, swift craft; the second, that the attention drawn to 
her after her appearance in the maritime world led to an attempt on 
the part of shipbuilders to improve the model and sailing qualities of 
ships; and the third, that John Willis Griffiths, impressed by her lines 
when he saw her undergoing repairs in an East River shipyard, drew 
from her his inspiration for the Rainbow. 

It is not altogether true that the Ann McKim was the first sharp 
ship-rigged craft, of clipperly qualities, that sailed out of Baltimore 
in her day, nor is it possible to believe that the Ann McKim or any 
other one ship incited the builders to improvement, since the whole 
course of shipbuilding in America all the way from privateers, smug- 
glers, slavers, and opium-runners to legitimate traders shows one long 
quest for the perfect model, constant experimentation, constant change, 
and constant improvement. On the other hand, it is only fair to say 
that the simplicity of the design of the McKim and her narrowness 
of beam in proportion to her length may have suggested certain ma- 
terial changes in the lines of the fast Atlantic packets, which, from 
the day of the first "liners" to the day when they abdicated in favor 
of steam, were also constandy undergoing changes of a sort which 
resulted in improvement. Since both the Ann McKim, as representative 
of the Baltimore clipper type, and the packets were evolutionary de- 


signs, combining, between the two, the most noteworthy time-tested 
principles of the fast cargo-carriers of north and south, there is some 
logic in assuming that, if the Ann McKim mothered the clipper breed, 
the packet ship fathered it, and that together they made possible — 
and hastened — the advent of the right type of ship for that amazing 
era. A comparison between the plans * of the Ann McKim and the 
Rainbow will show just how far the former's influence extended over 
the latter, and the reader can draw his own conclusions. 

It would be well to leave the origin of the clipper at this point 
were it not for the fact that other claims rise up to refute all definite 
statements, and three, at least, are deserving of more than passing 

One is that the northern flush-deck pilot boats, which owed much 
of their speed to the wonderful fit and cut of their sails, had a direct 
influence on all the crack packets sailing in the China trade, and were 
immediately responsible for the clipper; another is that the styles and 
good points of small craft, including the Baltimore clipper, Massachu- 
setts Bay dory, Long Island sloop, Newport boat, Down East lumber 
schooner, Hudson River sloop, and the ship, were all assimilated to 
produce the extreme clipper; and the third is that the clipper ships 
reflected only the demands made upon them by trade and that, just 
as the pattern of the kettle-bottomed cotton- and produce-carriers was 
altered to suit circumstances when those ships were engaged to take 
on return cargoes of German immigrants at Havre, so was the clipper 
designed and built when speed once more became a commercial neces- 
sity. To all this may be added the words of an English writer: "Yankee 
ingenuity would always devise ways of giving them [the English] 
a great deal of trouble." 

After shuffling and reshuffling theories and opinions — each of which 
contains enough truth to sound convincing until other theories are 
taken into account — the Ann McKim can at least be accepted as a 
provocative prelude to an amazing era, without which no chronicle 

*For method of reading plans and other technical information, see Appendix I, page 
320 et seq. 

^4NN JVLcKIM 41 

of the clipper ship is quite complete. She was built in Baltimore by 
Kennard & Williamson of Fell's Point for the wealthy sea-dog and 
merchant, the Honorable Isaac McKim. With a measurement of 143 
feet in length, she was easily the largest merchantman of her day, and, 
with a complete disregard for the expense of her building, she was 
by far the handsomest. Her beam was 31 feet, her mean depth 14 feet, 
and her registered tonnage 493. She had a square stern and the heavy 
after-drag common to the Baltimore clippers, drawing as she did 17 
feet aft and 11 feet forward; but her greatest fault lay in her small 
capacity for cargo, which made her something of a mere speed phe- 
nomenon. The finest materials, personally selected by Captain James 
Curtis, were used in her construction, running her entire cost to little 
short of fifty thousand dollars, nine thousand of which was spent for 
imported red copper for sheathing and fastenings throughout. Her 
frame was of live-oak, and the carving of her figurehead and stern 
was carried out with grace and beauty. On deck the gleaming brass- 
work of her bells and trimming was reflected in the polished Spanish 
mahogany of her rails, hatch coamings, and skylights. She mounted 
twelve brass guns — guns being a feature of all merchant vessels in those 
days for protection against pirates and marauders in foreign waters. 
With her lower masts fitted into place, the standing rigging attached, 
and topgallant masts raised at the top and flag-bedecked, she was 
launched at 4:30 o'clock on the afternoon of June 4, 1833, and named 
in honor of the owner's wife. 

During the ensuing months the Ann McKim busied herself taking 
in a cargo of that particular brand of southern flour which does not 
sour on a trip across the Equator, and, having everything in readiness 
by the 30th of August made sail and set out, under the command of 
Captain Walker, for the first lap in the long voyage around the Horn 
to Peru. Since the earthquake that Peru suffered in 1678 had made 
a huge portion of her soil incapable of producing wheat — rusting the 
grain as soon as the head began to form — and since Chile, the chief 
source of Peru's agricultural products, suffered from frequent droughts 
(the land around Coquimbo, for instance, was barren from 1830 to 


1833), the McKim was certain of a ready market for her cargo. She 
arrived at Callao — welcomed by clouds of gulls and pelicans, in a 
harbor which affords one of the safest anchorages in the world — on 
December 3, after a passage of 95 days, and soon was disposing of part 
of her 3,500 barrels of flour. 

The history of Callao has not been a happy one, nor was her appear- 
ance, at that time, as seen from the harbor, other than chill and deso- 
lating. Standing on deck of the Ann McKim on any of those clear, 
dry December days, one would have seen only a weary stretch of sandy 
plain, dotted by a few low dwellings that served to mark the attempts 
of the inhabitants to rebuild the city upon a ruin. Between October 
28, 1746, and February 16, 1747, Callao was thrown into a mad and 
reeling state of terror, the city being ripped from end to end during 
that period by no fewer than four hundred and thirty earthquake 
shocks, followed by mountain-high inundations from the sea crushing 
in like solid, rolling walls. Of 4,800 inhabitants, 4,600 were either 
swallowed by the earth or thrown back by the sea in tangled heaps 
of dead; the buildings disappeared as if a giant hand had tucked them 
into a large brown envelope; and practically all shipping in the harbor 
was destroyed, as vessels rode the water high over the city and were 
tossed in splintered bundles on the road to Lima. 

Callao was again in ruins after the more recent revolution, from 
which Peru emerged independent of the restrictions and extortions 
of the civil and ecclesiastical rule of Spain. In 1833, when the Ann 
McKim lay in the harbor, the nearby protecting presence of the U. S. 
schooner Dolphin, Lieutenant-Commander Vorheese, was a gentle 
reminder of Callao's still unsettled state. Prospects for legitimate trade 
were, however, far brighter than they had been in the days when 
American vessels were forced to steal into all Peruvian and Chilean 
ports, carry on their profitable but surreptitious trade with the inhabit- 
ants, and trust to their ships' agility to reach the high seas without 
encountering red death from the sides of a lurking Spanish man-of-war. 

The McKim remained on the South American coast for many 
months, and it was not until the following April that she tripped her 

^NN JidcKIM 43 

anchors and stood out to sea from the roadstead of Huascho. She 
winged her way, in a 72-day passage to Cape Henry, where she took 
her pilot on board and entered Chesapeake Bay. On June 16, 1834, 
she was once more lying in the port of Baltimore. 

In the meantime the United States was sliding rapidly downhill on 
the road to panic. Land speculation, beginning with profits made from 
normal rises in land-values, had whirled, early in the 1830's, into 
a 24-hour-a-day gambling dervish dance, joined by all who cared to 
go to the trouble of obtaining credit that was easily obtainable. 

Land was purchased on credit and sold on credit; and the casde- 
in-Spain fortunes thus made consumed merchandise that was obtained 
on credit from dealers, who imported their wares through London- 
American houses — on credit. These London-American houses pur- 
chased the original wares through credit extended by the Bank of 
England ; and the Bank of England's ability to extend such credit rested 
precariously on harvests. 

In America ordinary employments were neglected while the popu- 
lation traded in land, so that production suffered in proportion as con- 
sumption of foreign goods increased. Between the years 1820 and 1830 
the margin of imports over exports had been five per cent; between 
1830 and 1840 it jumped to twenty per cent. During this latter period 
577 new banks were opened to extend credit; the imports of silk per 
year rose from less than six millions of dollars to nearly twenty-three 
millions of dollars; in 1835 New York City had an eigh teen-million- 
dollar fire — and the city was rebuilt on credit; and in 1836 Russia 
was exporting wheat on credit to America at two dollars per barrel. 

There was still more to this famous credit "House That Jack Built" 
system of finance. The Federal Government, to keep business brisk, 
sold its own lands on credit; and the banks issued paper to circulate 
as money, to quicken purchases. Then the house began to topple under 
the gun-fire of events. First shot: the Government issued its "specie 
circular" demanding cash payments of land in specie. Second shot: the 
harvests of England failed in 1836 causing the Bank to contract. Third 
shot: American houses abroad were ordered to curtail their credits. 


Fourth shot: in May, 1837, every bank in the Union suspended pay- 
ments. Fifth shot: the American houses in London failed for many 
millions, followed by the rapid rat-tat-tat of creditors bringing down 
creditors, who brought down creditors, who brought down banks. 
Thus are panics made. 

It was into that kind of year that the Ann McKim came home in 
one of her record passages on the South American run: 59 days from 
Valparaiso to the Virginia Capes — 42 days from off the Horn. Con- 
sidering the general state of affairs, her excellent runs and lovely 
appearance must have attracted unusual attention among the mer- 
chants, because, upon the death of Isaac McKim, she was purchased 
by Howland & Aspinwall of New York. In fairness to the Ann McKim 
it is worth noting that, even had she been the finest and most desir- 
ably designed vessel afloat at the time of her purchase, conditions would 
have precluded the possibility of her setting a fashion. 

In 1838 she made the run from Coquimbo to Baltimore in 60 days — 
53 days from off the port of Valparaiso, establishing the supreme 
record of her Cape Horn career. The Baltimore papers exulted over 
her magnificent passage, but even that year — over thirty years before 
the ultimate extinction of sail as a practical commerce carrier — there 
were other papers exulting, ominously enough, over somewhat differ- 
ent passages. On April 5, 1838, Britain's pioneer transatlantic steam- 
ship Sirius made her timid way, in 18 days 11 hours and 15 minutes, 
from Queenstown to New York; with the little Great Western, 10 
days 10 hours and 15 minutes out, at her heels. The New York Eve- 
ning Post on the following day wrote: "The Battery was thronged 
yesterday morning with thousands of persons of both sexes to look 
on the Sirius"; and "When the Great Western at a later hour was seen 
ploughing her way through the waters towards the city the crowd be- 
came more numerous, and the whole bay to a great distance was dotted 
with boats, as if everything that could be manned by oars had left 
its place at the wharves. It would seem, in fact, a kind of triumphal 

That same year Captain Martin took the Ann McKim out to China 


and brought her home again in 150 days, arriving in New York on the 
23rd of November, 1840. In 1842 her 79-day passage from New York 
to Anjier established a new record, and in the spring of the following 
year she was home again in 96. 

Time, however, did not stand still while sharp ships cut fine pas- 
sages. Events of major importance continued to happen in surprising 
though not always unexpected quarters, and one — the Opium War in 
China — was to bring about results that were to give the first impetus 
to clipper-ship development. The war was brought on when the 
Chinese, in 1841, destroyed a large quantity of opium: an act that fol- 
lowed upon England's attempts to abolish smuggling and to open 
markets in China for the forbidden product. Charming, aloof, and 
almost entirely secure within her Wall, China had no wish to trade 
with the European peoples, and it took European commerce — in spite 
of the Portuguese foothold it had gained in Macao as early as the 
sixteenth century — over three hundred years to break down the door 
and penetrate to the mysteries of the Middle Kingdom. The Opium 
War brought about the opening of Amoy, Foochow, Ningpo and 
Shanghai to outside commerce, and the ceding, in 1843, of Hongkong 
to England. It also brought an end to the long reign of the body of 
hong merchants, to which China had given — rather distastefully — the 
privilege of dealing with the English "red-haired devils" and the 
American "second-chop Englishmen." It brought about, as well, the 
negotiation — by the Honorable Caleb dishing — of a very satisfactory 
treaty between the United States and China. 

With the opening of new Treaty Ports in the East, and with the 
greater ease with which ships were able to procure cargoes — together 
with the attendant increased trade and a rapid making and breaking 
of former record passages — finer and faster ships were demanded by 
the shipping world. The keel of the nearly 600-ton Hoitqua, another 
contender for the honor of being termed the first clipper ship, was 
laid down in 1843, by Brown & Bell for A. A. Low & Brother. The 
same year the 598-ton China packet Helena, a fast ship built in 1841 
by William H. Webb for N. L. & G. G. Griswold, was taken round 


the Horn to Valparaiso in 83 days, and rushed home from Canton 
by Captain Deliverance P. Benjamin in 90 days. A few days after the 
Helena's return, Webb's new 500-ton Montau\ was launched, and in 
May the Houqua was ready to leave the ways. After her launch, Cap- 
tain N. B. Palmer took her out to Hongkong in 84 days and brought 
her home in 90; in the same year Webb's new Panama and Samuel- 
Hall's barque Coquette, also launched in 1844, were loading teas in 
China. America, even at that time, was easily preparing fast ships for 
any emergency. 

Other ships were launched in quick succession and the newspapers 
daily reported new and fascinating records. The Ann McKim, never 
an adequate cargo-carrier, was eventually shifted back to South 
America, where she was sold, in 1847, at Valparaiso. For five years 
she sailed under the Chilean flag until the day in 1852 when she was 
completely dismantled off the coast, and the world lost — perhaps not 
America's first clipper — but a ship that had been, in her day, one of 
Baltimore's most beautiful belles. 




Lower plans 
V x 3c*!<ToF 
Uppar Plans 



183%- 1833 

Built by K ennaro ?. Williamson 



Dr<j wry from 

Halls Report 

Length 143 FI 
BrvAdth 31 Ft 
Ooplh I^Ft 


First Extreme Clipper Ship 

1 he years between the launching of the Ann McKim and the first 
of the "roaring 'forties" made clipped-winged dashes across blue vaults 
of time, and business ran and fell and bumped and scrambled after. 
The shadows of a passing decade blotted out the middle 'thirties as 
New York's "coach-spring" public bounced its way in and out of a 
fire, a depression, and a panic, and back again to solid commercial 
enterprise. Shipping, in company with practically every industry, was 
driven under in the panic of 1837, but re-emerged to "crack on" sail 
with added vigor. Each new record hung up by a wild-eyed captain 
slamming his packet home from Canton or Liverpool gave a new 
fillip to progress, and, as the decade turned, the Yankee surveyed the 
scene with unconcealed contentment. Like Alexander Mackay's "Jef- 
ferson Brick" he solemnly believed that Young America could turn 
her hand to almost anything "from whippin' the universe to stuffin' a 
mosquito," and, if at times he seemed a foolish chanticleer, he can at 
least be forgiven for possessing a national pride he could not otherwise 

As for ships, this satisfaction, instead of releasing a hidden stream 
of fresh creativeness, almost congealed it. The wind packets that sailed 
across the north Atlantic were admittedly the finest, fastest ships under 
sail in their day, and the fairly sharp and comparatively finely built 
China packets were making, at that time, some astonishingly curtailed 
passages. According to the die-hards of the early 'forties (who were 

in all probability of the opinion that steam was enough of a radical 




change to fight against), it was not necessary to introduce even minor 
changes to the then accepted sailing-ship model, or to carry those 
minor changes into major excess. Consequendy, when John Griffiths,* 
well-known naval architect that he was, proceeded to give lectures 
in which he advocated further changes in ship design, the changes 
— minor or major — were not readily accepted, and pointed remarks 
were directed at the model of a ship which he exhibited at the Ameri- 
can Institute in 184 1, and which not only represented what he thought 
a fast ship should be but also was a combination of a number of indi- 
vidual fast-sailing principles that other designers and builders had 
tried out separately and with success. 

It was some time before shipowners of New York were willing to 
invest money in Griffiths's experimental vessel — although it is not 
unlikely that other designers profited, between 1841 and 1845, from 
Griffiths's ideas — but in 1843 Howland & Aspinwall ordered a new 
ship based on the lines of the discussed model, and after two years of 
doubt and harangue and much criticism as the building progressed, 
stopped, and progressed again, the Rainbow was finally launched. 

Since the Rainbow has been called the first extreme clipper it is as 
well, at this point, to attempt an explanation of just what constituted 
a "clipper," and in what manner the Rainbow differed from the type 
of ships that preceded her. During early colonial days, when groups 
of English settlers arrived in America, nearly always with a shipbuilder 
included in the party, the design of American vessels was definitely 
English — and later, English with a strong flavor of French.** Lack of 
money and materials in early America, however, precluded a slavish 

* Griffiths's Treatise on Marine and Naval Architecture was the first important work 
on shipbuilding published in America. 

** Captain Garbett, R.N., says: "The Duke of York, afterwards James II, assisted by 
the celebrated Samuel Pepys, as Secretary, did much for the navy. He appointed a new 
commission when he came to the throne, with which he joined Sir Anthony Deane, 
the best naval architect of the time, who essentially improved the ships of the line by 
copying from French models; at this time and during the XVIII Century, naval archi- 
tecture was zealously studied in France, and the English constructors were so sensible 
of their inferiority that even up to the beginning of the XIX Century all our best ships 
were either captured from the French or copied from them." 


copying of the more or less ornate ships of the mother country and, 
owing to the need to skimp and save, the small colonial vessels took 
on a quality that was distincdy their own. What happened to them 
afterwards is described in Henry Hall's Report on U. S. Shipbuilding, 
made in 1880 for the U. S. census: 

"A permanent impression has been made upon the form and rig of 
American vessels by forty years of war and interference. It was during 
that period that the shapes and fashions that prevail today were sub- 
stantially attained. The old high-pooped decks and quarter galleries 
disappeared with the lateen and lug-sails on brigs, barks, and ships; 
the sharp stem was permanentiy abandoned; the curving home of the 
stem above the house poles went out of vogue, and vessels became 
larger in proportion to beam. The round bottoms were much in use, 
but the tendency toward a straight rise of the floor from the keel to 
a point half-way to the outer width of the ship became marked and 
popular.* Hollow water-lines fore and aft were introduced; the fore- 
foot of the hull ceased to be cut away so much, and the swell of the 
sides became less marked; the bows became somewhat sharper and 
were often made flaring above the water, and the square sprit-sail 
below the bowsprit was given up. American ship-builders had not yet 
learned to give their vessels much sheer, however, and in a majority 
of them the sheer line was almost straight from stem to stern; nor had 
they learned to divide the topsail into an upper and lower sail, and 
American vessels were distinguished by their short lower mast and the 
immense hoist of the topsail. The broadest beam was still at two-fifths 
the length of the hull. Hemp rigging, with broad channels and im- 
mense tops to the masts, was still retained; but the general arrange- 
ment and cut of the head, stay, square, and spanker sails at present 
in fashion was reached. The schooner rig had also become thoroughly 
popularized, especially for small vessels requiring speed; and the fast 
vessels of the day were the brigs and schooners, which were made long 
and sharp on the floor and low in the water, with considerable rake 
to the masts." 

From this point Hall continues elsewhere with: 

* A good explanation of the term "dead-rise at half-floor." 


"The clippers first built had sharp floors and sailed with a drag.* 
Some of them from Baltimore drew 16 feet aft and only 8 feet forward, 
the midship section, or broadest part of the hull, being at two-fifths 
the length of the bow, as in the packets and heavy freighting ships. 
The forward body was full and the after body lean and tapering under 
water. This was gradually changed in imitation of the fast yachts and 
pilot boats of New York City, and after 1851 the long, sharp bow was 
considered the best for speed. The midship section was moved back in 
a few vessels to the center of length, and the after body was made 
fuller and more powerful. The ship was then made to sail on an even 
keel. The bottom was also made fuller." ** 

The chief innovations advocated by John Willis Griffiths, and ex- 
emplified by the Rainbow, lay in lengthening the bow in a graceful 
upward curve over the water, making the bow itself concave instead 
of round or bulging (in imitation of the fast yachts and pilot boats of 
New York City, as stated in Hall's Report), placing the greatest 
breadth of beam farther aft than usual, and lightening and sweetening 
the line of the stern above the water. These features, which added 
materially to the speed and beauty of a ship, together with towering 
spars, an enormous spread of sail, and a captain with an instinct for 
racing a ship, constituted the extreme clipper. 

The concave bow of the Rainbow, as has been shown in Hall's 
Report, was a feature of the New York yachts and pilot boats, and 
consequendy was not so unfamiliar in the early nineteenth century as 
the criticism leveled at the Rainbow would lead one to suppose; but 
mistakes in naval architecture have proven again and again that the 
rule for a small ship is not necessarily the rule for a large one, nor 
does a peculiarity in structure that fits one craft for one purpose alto- 
gether fit another craft for another purpose — especially when a sea- 
going ship is under consideration. On this score, it is useless to wonder 
why this feature of the Rainbow met with opposition; although it 
was eventually proven that the sharp-bowed ship rather than the one 

* The first three sentences define the "Baltimore clipper" type. 

* * The last four sentences define the extreme clipper. 


with the bluff, buoyant bow not only was safer in heavy weather and 
able to live out storms that would have wrecked an apple-cheeked 
vessel, but also rode more gently and with a greater degree of ease. 
It must also be remembered that the Liverpool packet, the pride of the 
larger coastal cities, was built with a bow that looked like a church- 
bell inverted, with a bulge under the water and a flare at the top. 
The shape itself was conducive to speed and buoyancy, but as the 
ship rode over a wave she came down again with an enormous thump 
and a shock that was violent enough to be felt in every timber. The 
clipper bow, by slicing knifelike through the waters, not only tended 
to conserve some of the energy wasted by perpetual 'scending and 
pitching, but provided a desirable equilibrium by proportioning the 
underwater part of the bow to suit the portion out of water, and 
diminished the room for carrying weights in the forepart of the vessel 
where they are highly undesirable. 

In placing the greatest breadth of beam nearer amidships, Griffiths 
was dealing a death-blow to the widespread prejudice in favor of mod- 
eling a ship on the time-honored "cod's head and mackerel tail" 
theory: that is, round and beamy forward and tapering out tail-like 
to the stern. Since the clippers tapered not only toward the stern but 
also toward the bow, it was necessary to transfer the foremast to a posi- 
tion nearer amidships where the weight could be carried with greater 
ease and safety; and this arrangement not only gave more stability, 
placing the forward sail in a position to increase its power and useful- 
ness, but helped as well to transfer more bulk to the after part of 
the ship where it was more desirable. According to the Iconographic 
Encyclopedia, a work published in Germany prior to 1849, the state- 
ment is made that "the English make the greatest breadth of the ship 
toward the bow, believing that in that case she sails better and minds 
the helm more readily; yet it has been shown by experiments in France 
that it is best to have the greatest breadth amidships." Around this 
time, however, }. Scott Russell called attention in Great Britain to the 
mistake of constructing vessels on the "cod's head and mackerel tail" 
plan, and in 1848 Mare built a 50-ton iron cutter, the Mosquito, with 


a long, hollow bow and full after body. Prejudices against the Mos- 
quito discouraged the further building of this type of vessel in England 
at that time.* 

Hall continues his Report by saying: "The sharp floor did not give 
enough cargo capacity; and the sharp bow and stern had so little 
buoyancy, as compared with the square body or middle portion, that 
the ends of many clippers sagged and broke down, subjecting them 
to continual repairs, one of them being compelled to repair to the 
extent of $15,000 after her first voyage. Besides that, there was a lack 
of stability in the sharp bottoms." 

There is no doubt that some of the earlier clippers were weak and 
troublesome in this respect, since they attempted to maintain the sharp 
stern of the earlier bluff-bowed ship — which was a necessity if those 
ships were to be made to steer well, but which took away from the 
power, stability, and weatherliness of a ship that also possessed a very 
fine forepart. It stands to reason that a vessel that is knifelike at both 
ends must carry all her weight in the middle, and practical experience 
in time taught the designers of the period to counterbalance a fine 
bow with a buoyant stern ; yet it is no uncommon thing today to hear 
later clippers criticized because of that after fullness. The most im- 
portant thing to remember in judging a ship is never to find fault with 
or overpraise any one of her separate parts, but to judge a ship by the 
harmonious wording of all her parts in unison — and these parts must 
include not only the plan of the hull, but also the rake of the spars, 
the sail plan, stowage and trim, balance of stern and bow, balance of un- 
derwater body and overwater body, and the balance of the whole body 
with the balance of sail. A defective working in any one of the parts, 

* The plan Russell advocated was definitely not influenced by American ideas, since 
the conclusions at which he arrived were based upon an investigation, begun in 1834, 
of the possibility of applying steam navigation to the Edinburgh and Glasgow Canal, 
during which he determined, among other things, the rate at which a canal boat can 
be towed with the least demand on the horse. These observations led him to propose 
a new system of shaping vessels which, if carried out, would have incorporated many 
of the changes advocated by Griffiths, while eliminating many of the early faults. It is 
evident, therefore, that England would have developed ships with clipperly advantages, 
even if America had not. 


or bad stowage and trim, will materially impede the progress of any 
ship through the water. The secret of the perfect sailing ship, there- 
fore, is perfect equilibrium: complete relaxation to the winds, easy and 
non-resisting passage through the water, and a ready response to the 
will of her master. Perfect equilibrium is judged by the records — and 
nothing else but the records. 

A further fault which some of the earlier clippers possessed was due 
to the belief that fullness on the forward part of the deck was necessary 
for working ship. This in itself was a good enough theory, but the 
tendency was naturally to place weights in the forepart, with the result 
that if the ship took a heavy head-sea over the bows, she was very 
close to disaster. The Rainbow had this bad feature, as can be seen 
from her half -breadth plan, and it is very possible that it was respon- 
sible for her eventual loss. 

All in all, however, the Rainbow was an exceedingly dainty ship 
when finally completed, but even the New York Herald, usually so 
generous with its praises, could only remark that she held out a promise 
of "great speed." She was 750 tons and measured: length 159 feet, 
breadth 31 feet, and depth 18 feet. She was built by Smith & Dimon, 
and was launched on January 22, 1845. 

During the year of her launching, the treaty ports were opened 
with China — the issue of the Herald that spoke of the new ship an- 
nounced the terms of the new treaty — and trade with the Orient took 
a definitely upward slant. In this respect the opening of the clipper 
era coincided with the advent of the clipper ship, and there is no 
question about which preceded or followed the other. Griffiths's ship 
was exceedingly fortunate in this respect — as well as in the fact that 
it was no fairy tale that there was gold at the end of this Rainbow. 

On her maiden voyage the Rainbow sailed for the Flowery King- 
dom under the famous Captain John Land — who later had a clipper 
named after him — and fetched New York again the 19th of September 
after an out-of-season run of 105 days, establishing a record of seven 
months and seventeen days for the round trip. She left New York 
again on October 1, and, after a record voyage to Macao and back, 


scissored up past Sandy Hook on April 16, 1846, with practically a 
month snipped off her former record. The usually taciturn John Land 
was hilarious, and, wherever his old white head was seen, someone 
was acquainted with the record: 60 days from Macao to the Line, 79 
days from Macao to New York, and six months sixteen days for the 
entire passage there and back. "The ship couldn't be built to beat the 

That same year events occurred at home and abroad that further 
animated all shipping and imparted an unusual briskness to business. 
When the Honorable Caleb Cushing — or Ku-ching, as the Chinese 
preferred it — returned to the United States by way of Mexico, after 
having successfully negotiated the treaty with China, he was robbed, 
by the Mexicans, of all his baggage. This insult was the culminating 
point in a long line of insults which had taxed the patience of the 
American people, and — as culminating points so often have the habit 
of doing — it precipitated war, and new ships were needed for the 
conveyance of the largest number of government transports that had 
ever gone by sea to campaign in an enemy country. The second event 
of the year was the Irish potato-crop famine, which shot trade sky- 
high and underscored the importance of England's modified Corn 
Laws. In 1842 England, somewhat chastened by the results of the 
disastrous crop failure of 1836, modified her laws so as to allow pro- 
visions that had formerly been prohibited to be admitted at fairly low 
duties; and the potato-crop famine came at a time that was most 
advantageous to the many hundreds of Americans who had been 
driven from cities to farms by the panic of 1837. Exports exceeded 
one hundred million dollars in 1846, and the Federal Government, 
having fully recovered from its embarrassment of the 'thirties, reduced 
the general average of duties on imports to some 7 per cent under the 
average to which they had been raised in 1841-2. In 1847 domestic 
exports climbed to $150,637,464 — an amount which was not passed 
nor even reached again until 1851 under the stimulation of the clipper 
fever — while imports were steadier at $146,545,638. 

The sailing ship was carrying its full share of the traffic during the 


excitement of 1846, but the lasting benefits of the need for ships were 
more fully felt by steam. The Cunard Line, beginning with a fleet of 
four ships, was definitely established in 1840 when the little Britannia 
(which later brought Charles Dickens over in 1842) arrived at Boston 
from England in July of that year. This little mother of the present- 
day Cunarders was built of wood at Greenock in 1840 by R. Duncan, 
and her side-lever engines were fitted by Napier. She was barque- 
rigged, square-sterned, and bluff bowed, and, on her 14 day 8 hour 
passage from England to America with the mails, she consumed an 
average of 38 tons of coal a day and made an average speed of %y 2 
knots. Her measurements were: length 207 feet, breadth 34.3 feet, 
depth 24.3 feet, tonnage 1,156, horsepower 740, and cargo capacity 
225 tons. She had accommodations for 115 cabin passengers. 

In 1846 E. K. Collins sold his fine Dramatic Line of American wind- 
packets and turned to steam. The same year, however, the dainty pre- 
clipper Ariel — which was to make some fine, but not record, runs 
in the China trade — was launched by Currier & Townsend of New- 
buryport; and the packet Yorkshire came home from Liverpool in the 
record time of sixteen days. Old sidewheelers were churning down the 
Mississippi with their safety-valves fastened down, tar and pitch in 
their furnaces, and their tense-faced captains standing with rifles in 
Hand, each ready to shoot down the other fellow's pilot if he lost the 
race. Frontier days. The first steamship tragedy — the more than mil- 
lion-dollar loss of the little ocean-going British-owned President in 
1 84 1 — was scarcely remembered by a people who were taking popping 
safety-valves, boiler explosions, and scaldings in their stride. 

Nothing stopped the attempt to make speed in those years. The 
Baldwin-built locomotive Old Ironsides was said to have raced at 62 
miles an hour in 1833, and for over ten years afterward steam loco- 
motives were blowing up here and there in an effort to do better. In 
1847 tne new 1,400-ton river steamer New World attracted attention 
when she went from New York to Albany in 6 hours and 20 minutes, 
exclusive of landings; and the same year the Rainbow upheld the glory 
of sail by coming home from Canton, under Captain William Hayes, 


in 85 days. In 1848 she repeated the run, under Captain Marshall, in 
88 days. 

A few days after the Rainbow's last homecoming Captain Hayes 
took her out on her fifth voyage, bound for Valparaiso, but she never 
romped into port again. No trace of her was ever found. She simply 
vanished from the waters. 

Clipper Ship 


Built at New York 

Smith and Dimon 
drawn from plans in the 
Peabody Museum 
Salem, Mass. 

half breadth plan 

length 159 feet 

length on load water line 15413 feet 

beam moulded 31-8 feet 

depth of hold 20 feet 1* inches 




China Clipper 


lack and shining of hull, with a bright gilded dragon for a figure- 
head, the Sea Witch slid down the ways on December 8, 1846 — 
another masterpiece by Griffiths from the yard of Smith & Dimon. 
"The prettiest vessel we have ever seen," said the Herald; and Captain 
Robert Waterman, who was to have command, took the former Cor- 
delia Sterling, as a bride, to the launching. 

Speed was written into almost every line of the Sea Witch, and 
Waterman, who then at thirty-eight was in the very prime of his 
life, had a definite ability to make swift passages. He had no sooner 
taken command than the new vessel began to establish records that 
have never since been broken by ships of the sail, and which it took 
over a quarter of a century of steam development to better. A strong 
northwest gale carried the Sea Witch out of New York on December 
23, 1846, giving her a grand start on her maiden voyage to China. 
She sent letters ashore at Rio 25 days later, and 79 days after that 
anchored at Hongkong. She came home against the monsoon on the 
25th of July in the following year — a little over 81 days from Canton. 
The New York Herald said, "The Canton packet Sea Witch, as the 
whole world knows, has made a remarkably quick passage to China." 
On August 14th she left port again in charge of Mr. John Hyer of 
the pilot boat John E. Davidson, and, in one hour and three minutes, 
was scorching out to sea, reaching Hongkong early in the month of 
November — 105 days out. 

Events parallel each other, and meantime the eggs of the most fan- 



tastic years the world has ever known were being hatched — not in the 
East, but in the West. 

Two months before the Sea Witch came home from her first smart 
passage out to China, James Marshall — wagon-maker, mechanic, and 
recent member of the California battalion that was aboard the U. S. 
sloop-of-war Cyane when she took San Diego from Mexico in 1846 — 
set out with rifle, blanket, and a few provisions to seek, apparendy, 
a site for a sawmill, but in reality to plunge the world into a vortex 
revolving around a golden center. 

Let us look back at the life of this man who was the innocent cause 
of the Gold Rush to California, and at the events leading up to the 
moment for which they themselves had happened. Marshall was born 
in New Jersey, but, like many others of his day, felt early in life the 
curious gypsy-urge of the born pioneer. In 1844 ne was m Missouri. 
A train of a hundred wagons — California-bound — passed by and Mar- 
shall joined them. A year later he was buying land in Sacramento 
Valley from John Sutter, part of whose own vast estates had been 
purchased from the Russians, when the colonizing dreams of those 
people fell through. A short while passed in peace and happiness, until 
1846 rolled around. From then on, one heavy-footed event after an- 
other marched into California, and, as far as Marshall and Sutter were 
concerned, practically kicked the peace and happiness into oblivion. 

While rumors of war between the United States and Mexico were 
sending flickering shadows across sunlit days, Mexico grew alarmed 
over the fresh influx of emigrants to the West, and was nervously 
affected by the innocent movements of Captain Fremont and his 
exploring party. She ordered the intruders to get out, and all would-be 
intruders to stay out. The result precipitated the abortive attempt to 
make California a republic under the Bear Flag. Emigrants were 
arriving in California, and they intended to stay. Which they did — 
but not under the Bear Flag. Soon afterward, the flickering shadows 
began to shape themselves into definite facts, and war between the 
United States and Mexico became a reality. Before July of '46 was 

Sea Witch 


out, the Stars and Stripes were flying over Sonoma, San Francisco, 
Sutter's Fort, and Monterey. 

Marshall returned after the war — a penniless, unpaid soldier — to a 
ruined ranch. In despair he offered his services as a millwright to Sutter 
in return for a partnership in a proposed lumber business, and Sutter 
accepted them. In May, 1847, Marshall worked his way up the Ameri- 
can River and found a proper site for a sawmill in the midst of rich 
timber country. In August he brought up men and tools and set to 
work. A little camp was established above Coloma, log houses were 
erected, the framework of the mill was begun, the river was dammed 
up, and a ditch was cut for the millrace. 

For several months Marshall went through the evening routine of 
freeing the dammed-up waters, and through the morning routine of 
closing the gates again, in his work of deepening the millrace. On the 
morning of January 24, 1848, while his men were at breakfast, he 
closed the gates as usual, and, while watching the waters receding from 
the ditch, saw first one, and then another, tiny pebble-shape of gold. 

The first discovery of gold was no more thrilling than that. Marshall 
took his news and about three ounces of the metal to Sutter's Fort. 
Sutter cautioned secrecy, but a party of Mormons smelt the gold, and 
Sam Brannan — who had brought a shipload of these people out in 
1846 — screamed the news through California. It was the end for 
Sutter and Marshall. Practically all of California swarmed with pick, 
shovel, and basin to the scene of the miracle to dig for gold, and in 
September the news was in New York on its journey round die world. 

Nine days after the discovery of gold in California, in February, 
the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, making California a 
permanent part of the United States. On the 16th of the following 
month the rakish-looking Sea Witch dashed home from Canton in a 
record run of yy days. Disturbing news was coming from abroad. 
In April, London was threatened with a Chartist outbreak, and Louis 
Napoleon — who was to achieve the presidency of France in the fol- 
lowing December — paraded the streets with a policeman's mace in the 
cause of British order. Fresh news of the 1848 Revolution in France 


crossed the Atlantic in June. Out West the Mormons were slyly pack- 
ing up their possessions and stealing away to Salt Lake City with 
their goods and gold. In August more disturbing news — this time 
from the high seas. The tale of the immigrant, aboard the year-old 
American liner Ocean Monarch, who mistook a ventilator for a chim- 
ney and lighted a fire under it, causing the death of 178 passengers 
and the loss of the ship. Then September in New York. The first 
hysterical news of gold, followed by calm letters from T. O. Larkin, 
U. S. naval agent at Monterey, to confirm it. And, in the midst of 
the excitement, the Sea Witch, breathlessly home from China, estab- 
lishing the record China-run for all time — an almost unbelievable 74 
days and 14 hours anchor-to-anchor from Hongkong. 

In October Howland & Aspinwall were ready at the psychological 
moment with their fine new Pacific Mail steamship California. While 
the month was still in its infancy she steamed out of the harbor loaded 
to capacity with the westward-bound, on their way to build their 
"calico palaces" and dig for gold. In November the new Smith-&- 
Dimon-built Memnon — which in 1849 was to set a 123-day passage 
mark for subsequent California-bound clippers to shoot at — sailed 
past the steamship Europe in a 14 day 7 hour run to Liverpool. The 
year ended with new branches of trade opened between the United 
States and France and other countries of the Continent. 

In 1849 the Sea Witch sped round the Horn to Valparaiso, and 
thence to Canton in 118 sailing days, returning to New York on 
March 7, 1850. That was the last of her China passages for two years. 
Shortly afterwards she was put on the San Francisco run to carry 
cargo and passengers to the "Hell's Delights," "Hang Towns," and 
"Bloody Gulches" of California; Captain Waterman resigned to take 
command of the Pacific Mail Steamship Northerner — a ship which was 
wrecked in i860 — and the Sea Witch was handed over to Waterman's 
mate George Fraser, who was no less a mileage eater than the "old 
man" himself. On April 13, 1850, the Sea Witch sailed from New 
York, and showed herself every inch the marvel under Fraser that she 
had been under Waterman. By July 24 she was slicing her way through 


the then ioo-day record to the Golden Gate, with a passage of 97 
days behind her. 

The Sea Witch was beautifully built. Her hull was painted black 
above the copper, and above that she wore a narrow red and white 
stripe. She carried the house-flag of Howland & Aspinwall : a blue and 
white flag with a white cross, whose top, bottom, and sides touched 
all edges; a blue bar at the top fixed-corner; a blue-and- white-striped 
bar at the lower fixed-corner; and the same bars in reverse order on the 
ends that fluttered loose in the wind. Howland & Aspinwall intended 
the Sea Witch expressly for Captain Waterman, who had shown such 
remarkable work in the old flat-bottomed New Orleans packet 
Natchez. The Sea Witch measured: length, 170 feet, 3 inches; breadth, 
33 feet, 11 inches; depth, 19 feet; and tonnage, 908. Her long, hollow 
bow and great dead-rise were even more extreme than those of the 
Rainbow, and she carried an even more imposing spread of canvas: 
three standing skysail yards, royal studdingsails, large square lower 
studdingsails with swinging booms, ringtails, and water sails. Being 
excessively buoyant, she rolled and needed plenty of ballast, but, in 
spite of the fact that she sat very low in the water when loaded, she 
was never the wet ship that the Rainbow was. The details of her rig- 
ging and outfit were supervised by Captain Waterman, who had a 
reputation for keeping his ships smart and trim aloft. Her officers 
and crew were picked men, several of them originally from the 
Natchez. The Sea Witch's 24-hour record-run was 358 miles, a speed 
which far exceeded that of any steamship of that day. 

After 1850 the Sea Witch stayed on the California run for four 
years, scattering records wherever she went, and at the end of that 
time she was again put on the direct route to China. On January 12, 
1855, a little over seven months after she had put into Valparaiso with 
holes bored in her bottom on her homeward passage from China via 
Coquimbo, she arrived at New York in 64 days from Valparaiso. The 
U. S. Nautical Magazine and Naval Journal for February, 1855, in 
commenting upon the excellency of diis passage, said she was "14 days 
from Valparaiso to Cape Horn; came round with heavy westerly gales 


in latitude 57 ° South; in 32% days passed between Trinidad and 
Martin Vas; and in 41 days crossed the Equator in longitude 40 ° West; 
from thence light winds until she got in the gulf; had no N.E. trades, 
calms and light airs from S.E. prevailing." 

That same year, during the late spring, one of the many tragedies 
of the sea occurred, and the little Sea Witch put into port at Rio carry- 
ing the dead body of Captain Fraser, who had been murdered by his 
mate. Captain Lang assumed command immediately afterward, but by 
that time the once immaculate vessel was beginning to show the ex- 
treme appearance of age and the bad effects of nine years of incessant 
riding. On March 26, 1856, while bound from Amoy to Havana with a 
cargo of coolies, she slammed into a reef on the east coast of Cuba, and 
was completely done for. 


China Clipper 

Xhe Oriental has always been a glamorous vessel, partly because 
she has long since been the symbol of an aristocratic trade that dealt 
in fragrant, exciting cargoes; and partly because she was the highest 
expression of hands that diligently wrought a precious link between 
a luxury-loving Occident and the half -forgotten treasures of the East. 
She has been glamorous also because of the electrifying effect her 
beauty had upon England as she lay in the West India Docks in 
1850 — looking as fragile as a teacup, and as inscrutable as the moon, 
and commanding British awe and respect for America in a measure 
that war, Yankee pilgrimages to the Court of St. James's, homemade 
pride, and ambassadorial overtures have never been able to equal. 

The Oriental was launched in 1849. In the same year Great Britain 
finally repealed her famous Navigation Laws, the first of which had 
been passed in 1651 by the Parliament of Cromwell, and then con- 
firmed by Charles II after the Restoration. The Cromwellian Act 
was an adroit political maneuver calculated to disguise efforts toward 
war with Holland and to check the increasing power of the Dutch — 
at that time the greatest commercial carriers on the seas. The Act 
had its desired effect. Holland was crushed in the ensuing wars, and 
the bulk of the world's carrying trade — particularly that of the rich 
markets in the Far East — was thrown into ships of British register. 
The monopoly thus created was far too pleasant to lose, and, from 

time to time, the early law was amended and added to rather than 



repealed — a fact which became increasingly irksome to young 

Absurdities followed the War of Independence — with the United 
States passing similar laws and both nations participating in the rather 
silly traffic of sending ships in ballast to the other country to bring 
home produce. This condition persisted until the vessels of the United 
States were placed upon the footing of the "most favored nation"; 
but up to 1849 the barrier built up by the Navigation Laws was, 
except in certain instances, almost impregnable. It truly seemed as 
if "only the devil could beat the English who had beat the Dutch." 
No merchandise could be imported into England save in British ves- 
sels (British registered, British navigated, and three-quarters British 
manned) with the exception of a few items which were permitted 
entry in ships belonging to the country producing the goods, such 
items including: masts, timber, boards, tar, tallow, hemp, flax, cur- 
rants, raisins, figs, prunes, olive oil, corn or grain, wine, brandy, 
tobacco, wool, sumach, madder, barilla, brimstone, oak, bark, cork, 
oranges, lemons, rape seed, and clover seed. The produce of Asia, 
Africa, and America could not be imported through European markets 
for home use, save from beyond the Strait of Gibraltar. No traffic could 
be carried on with Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, or Man, and 
exports were not to be made to Asia, Africa, or British possessions 
in America save in British ships, or in ships of the country producing 
the goods. All ships that were navigated contrary to the rules laid 
down for determining the status of a British vessel were subject to 
a forfeit of ^10 each for every foreign seaman aboard; and a penalty 
of ^100 plus the forfeiture of goods was incurred by all vessels 
importing or exporting contrary to the laws of navigation, save those 
vessels which — however navigated — imported merchandise for re-ex- 
portation. It is interesting to note that such penalties collected were 
expended on the prevention of smuggling. 

These Acts were very popular in England. Sir Josiah Child referred 
to them as "our Charta Maritima . . . one of the choicest and most 
prudent acts that ever was made, and without which we had not 



been owners of one half of the seamen we do at present." Dr. Smith 
called them "the wisest of all commercial regulations of England," 
and Lord Sheffield hailed them as "the guardians of the prosperity of 

It is to be feared, however, that these worthy gendemen could not 
see the Navigation for the Acts, since the increasingly important effect 
of them was to put a padlock on British initiative and force high 
prices on the people, while the additional act of 1786 — which forbade 
British subjects to own foreign-built vessels — provided the very key 
to fasten it. The repeal of all these laws threw open the trading ports 
of Great Britain and her colonies to all the world, and ships and 
pulses raced in an effort to capture British markets. 

Meanwhile, the Oriental sailed from New York on September 14, 
1849, Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer in command, and, reaching 
Hongkong on January 1, 1850 — 109 days out — picked up a cargo 
of tea. Eighty-one days later she was in New York again, and, though 
the passage did not compare with Waterman's miraculous 1848 run 
in the Sea Witch, it was an excellent one for a cautious captain of 
fifty, who was thinking of giving up his command. This passage in 
the Oriental was, in fact, Cap'n Nat's good-by to sail — if not to the 
sea, though he himself considered it so. Shortly afterward, he took 
the steamship United States to Bremen for disposal, but the escorting 
of a "tea-kettle" across the Atlantic was to him scarcely comparable 
with the ineffable thrill of sail. The United States was a matter of 
routine, of duty; his passage in the Oriental would be remembered 
as the beautiful climax to a brilliant career. 

Nathaniel's brother, Theodore, next assumed command of the Ori- 
ental, and, taking her out of New York on May 19, 1850, ran her 
down to the Equator in 25 days. Twenty days later she was off the 
Cape of Good Hope, and sixteen days after that she was racing past 
Java Head, arriving in Hongkong on August 8 — 81 days from New 
York. This passage established the all-time sailing record for the out- 
ward run from New York to China, as the Sea Witch had, in the pre- 


vious year, established the all-time sailing record for the homeward run. 

The fame of the Oriental sped up and down the Chinese coast on 
wings of wonder, and an immediate rush was made through Russell 
& Co. to charter her for the London teas. In eighteen days she was 
spick-and-span and ready for sea again. Going through the usual rou- 
tine on the eastern coast, she had been stripped to her girt-lines : each 
mast and yard, save for the lower ones, had been sent down on deck, 
stripped of its rigging, and overhauled. Her tops were lifted and every 
masthead examined, her rigging was newly blacked, and she was 
freshly painted inside and out. By August 28 she had taken in 1,600 
tons of tea at £6 per ton of forty cubic feet, while British ships stood 
patiendy by waiting for cargoes at X3.10S per ton of fifty cubic feet. 
Ninety-seven days later she was in England — the first American clip- 
per to reach the British market after the repeal of the Navigation 
Laws. Her arrival created a sensation. 

Old men rubbed their eyes and whispered of visions, when they 
saw her; crowds swarmed to the docks to take one look, and then 
to fall in love with her. There had never been such a passage — and 
never before so sweet a ship. There she lay, every inch a thorough- 
bred: her shining hull eloquent of speed and beauty, tall, raking masts 
rearing upward to the sky, broad yards and studdingsail booms giv- 
ing silent evidence of an enormous spread of sail, brasswork polished 
to the brightness of mirrors, and decks holystoned to spotless white. 
The crowds continued to throng the docks for days; the newspapers 
published her portrait; and the British Admiralty sought permission 
to take off her lines when she lay later in drydock at Blackwall. 
Steam for the moment was a puffing parvenu on a far horizon; the 
Navigation Acts were well forgotten; the Oriental had grossed £9,600 
in freights and had brought approximately a million catties of tea 
to London. Before the year was up, England had a clipper. 

The Oriental was built in the yards of Jacob Bell — who had con- 
tinued in business after the firm of Brown & Bell was dissolved in 
1848 — at the foot of Stanton Street, New York City. She cost seventy 
thousand dollars, and was owned by A. A. Low & Brother, flying the 


yellow, red, and yellow house-flag of that company. Captain N. B. 
Palmer, her first commander, who had acted for many years as con- 
fidential adviser to the brothers Low in matters relative to their ships, 
had a hand in her designing, as he had also in the designing of the pre- 
clipper Houqua and the excellent clipper Samuel Russell, both of 
which were built by Brown & Bell for the Lows and commanded in 
turn by Captain Palmer. The former vessel was named for the hong 
merchant Houqua; the latter for the founder of the house of Russell 
& Co. of China, with whom the brothers Low began their career. 
Both the Houqua and the Samuel Russell outlasted the Oriental, 
though, curiously enough, all were lost in eastern waters. The Oriental 
measured: length 185 feet, breadth 36 feet, depth 21 feet, and was 
1,003 tons' burden. She had two decks and was built of white oak, 
locust, and cedar. The New York Herald spoke of her launch on 
August 4, 1849, as "exceedingly beautiful." 

The Oriental's arrival in London had been in December. The 
Argonaut, which had sailed from China at the same time, did not 
arrive in England until January 17, 1851, and before the Oriental 
was to arrive again in the following November fifteen other Ameri- 
can ships had proceeded from China laden with tea for the British 
markets. California gold — mad ravings across the desert — cholera and 
yellow fever at Chagres — quarrelsome, bickering passages round the 
Horn — the latest development of steam: all these seemed far away 
and half-forgotten like a delusive nightmare of some other day and 
time. The Oriental was aloof from those things; the excitement that 
she figured in was the excitement that she carried with her. 

In 1852 the Oriental was in New York again for the first time in 
almost three years — home with a series of excellent passages to chron- 
icle her fame. She added another in 1853: the fair passage, under 
Captain C. A. Fletcher, of 101 days to San Francisco. The following 
year she was again in China and met with tragedy on the 25th of 
February. She was lost that day coming out of Foochow in charge of 
the pilot, and went down in the swirling chow-chow waters of the 
beautiful River Min. 


California Clipper 


he year 1849 witnessed the procession of an almost unbroken 
army of human ants crawling overland, and the grim cloud-dark 
specter of a horde of hungry human locusts crossing seas — unwittingly 
but unerringly bent upon the piecemeal destruction of lazy Arcadian 
California, with her unpractical grand seigneurs . . . and her gold. 
Round the Horn they beat their way through ice and snow, through 
tempests and gales, in overloaded, undermanned, determined ships. 
Over the Isthmus they went, dragging themselves from the cesspool 
of Chagres through beauty-tortured jungles to the insecurities of 
Panama. Over the desert from the Missouri to the Sierra Nevadas, 
through fiery days and freezing nights, up the Santa Fe Trail from 
Mexico, down from Oregon, and across the Pacific they trooped — 
more than ninety thousand human beings in that one year — sick, 
destitute, tired, falling in their tracks and crawling, the fever of gold- 
glitter in their eyes, the pounding of gold-lust in their pulses, the 
radiance of promised riches — sunlight-blinding — upon faces that had 
stared too long into nothingness. So they came — the pill-dosed, pick- 
and-shovel, gambling Mayflower-aristocracy of California. 

The birds of prey, sense-certain of their plunder, followed after. 
American politicians, Australian pickpockets, Irish bandits, French 
ladies of pleasure, Chilean thieves, and Peruvian fandango dancers 
were suddenly present like leaves in spring when the sap is running 
sweet and new, ready to whirl away again, weighted with the gold 

of summer-profit, when the first nip of frost and wintering disillusion 



worried the air. Boatload after boadoad of future laundrymen left 
China, and humble artisans from the opposite direction discovered 
anew the proper course of Empire and profited by their wisdom. 

During 1849 seven hundred and seventy-five ships cleared from 
eastern ports for California, and fifty thousand men, women, and 
children, who trusted to horses and wagons and their own tired, 
bleeding feet, forged overland. At the end of the year the various 
land-routes to California were signposted by discarded gold-machines, 
wash-basins, broken-down prairie schooners, the bleaching bones of 
men and beasts, and five thousand little mounds that marked the 
graves of the defeated; wrecks of ships were piled up along the 
coasts of the two Americas; and there was a vague wonder in eastern 
homes about the many valiant tubs that sailed out into the blue dusk 
and simply vanished. 

There are those who have found an admirable courage in the driv- 
ing urge that carried the gold-seekers on to their ultimate goal. Such 
courage has existed since the earliest days of man ; such courage could 
be repeated tomorrow . . . and not necessarily for gold. Those who 
were drawn by the yellow magnet pushed ahead if they had the 
strength; they stayed behind, sickened, went mad, and died by the 
wayside if they lacked it. There was nothing essentially thrilling or 
admirable about that greed for gold ; there was much that was insane, 
fantastic, sickening, and utterly rotten. In the early days of the old 
coasting traders, when perhaps two or three American ships touched 
at the Pacific coast in the course of a year, captains and crews alike 
were received with courtesy, and they extended courtesy. If Indians 
were bothersome, as they sometimes were, a few were taken aboard 
ship as hostages, and that matter was settled. The first day in harbor 
it was not strange for a trader to dress his ship from stem to stern 
with the varicolored flags of every nation, and, in order to impress 
a people who loved ostentation and ceremony, to invite the elite of a 
town aboard to dine. Trade was carried on — to an incredible amount 
— at leisure, amid displays of mutual admiration. The Spaniard may 
at times have lived in a rude enough house ashore, but his plate, 


cooking utensils, and even furniture were frequently of solid silver. 
Perhaps he was lazy and his clothing was poor — if so, he was glad 
to exchange any amount of furs, pearls, and silver for muslins and 
satins. He entertained his American guests lavishly: there was music, 
dancing, and exhibitions of the superb horsemanship for which he 
was famous. When the trading was over the seaman left with regrets. 
He was loaded with trinkets and gifts and all the fruit and food 
his vessel could carry. His remembrance of the Californian was pleas- 
ant, as was the Californian's remembrance of him. When the Mexican 
War was fought these people yielded peacefully, welcoming the pro- 
tection of the Stars and Stripes, little dreaming of what Gold Rush 
days would bring — that their picturesque hills would be dug full of 
pot-holes, their servants shot, their lands squatted, their houses robbed, 
and their cattle stolen. What the gold-seekers did to the California 
Spanish would have made Drake blush and Queen Elizabeth pallid; 
perhaps it is true that the pioneer of the goldmines could put a feather 
in his hat and call himself the winner of the nineteenth-century mara- 
thon of bravery, but if so the feather was probably stolen from an 

The terrific exodus of men and women to California opened, for 
a few years, one of the richest markets the world has ever known. 
Eggs were $1 each; onions, $2 the pound; beef, pork, and flour were 
$40 to $60 a barrel; salmon caught in the Sacramento River fetched 
$2 each; tea, coffee, and sugar sold at $4 a pound; wooden bowls 
were $2.50 to $7.50 each; boots were $50 a pair; whiskey was $10 
to $40 a quart; a breakfast of ham, eggs, and coffee cost $6; a shave, 
$4; picks and shovels were $5 to $15 each; laudanum was $1 a drop; 
and quinine was any price. Cooks were paid $400 to $500 a month; 
stevedores, $20 to $30 a day; laundries received from $10 to $12 a 
dozen for washing shirts, and miners made anywhere from $100 
to $1,000 a day washing dirt. The scarcity of food and supplies, with 
gold flowing in a ceaseless stream, threw eastern shipowners and 
shipbuilders into a lather of haste to replenish the needs and divert 
the stream. 


In 1850 thirteen California clippers, of which the Celestial and 
Mandarin were first, were quickly released from the ways. The Sur- 
prise, third to be launched, was Boston's first large clipper. She was 
designed by Samuel Harte Pook, one of the few naval architects of 
the time working independently of any yard, was built by Samuel 
Hall, and owned by A. A. Low & Brother. At her launching on 
October 5 she was given a tremendous ovation and was the object 
of much discussion for some time after. 

The usual preparations for the launching of a vessel were begun as 
soon as she was painted and coppered — although ships were fre- 
quently taken into drydock when the launching was over, and cop- 
pered afterwards. In some cases a cradle, which rested on each side 
of a platform sloping to the water, was built under the ship, and 
when the time for launching came these sides of the platform (or 
ways) were greased with tallow. All the blocks and shores were 
removed, save one. When the moment for launching came, this final 
prop — called the dog-shore — was struck downward, and the vessel, 
either of her own volition or aided by the agitating motions of those 
aboard, slid stern-first into the water. When afloat she was rolled from 
side to side to disengage the cradle. Another custom was to launch 
the vessel directly from the stocks, and as soon as the rope which 
held her was cut free — and the last prop was knocked away — she 
would begin to slide downward so rapidly that it was necessary to 
pour water on the smoking ways. She plunged as soon as she struck 
the water, but rising again had a tendency to glide quickly away 
until brought up smardy by an anchor. As a launching was always 
something of a ceremony, the ship was decorated with flags, and 
just as she began to move along the ways a botde of rum was broken 
over her forefoot and her name was called aloud, in christening. After 
the launch her rudder was shipped and she was towed away to receive 
her outfit: spars (masts, yards, booms, gaffs, and all small pieces used 
to support rigging and sails), rigging (all the ropes used for the 
support of masts, management of sails, etc.), and tackles (all blocks, 
rollers, or pulleys through which the running rigging passes). After 


that she received her sails, small boats, navigating instruments, medical 
supplies, and provisions. 

Mr. Hall, however, had indeed a surprise on the day the Surprise 
was launched. He had prepared a ladies' pavilion from which rela- 
tives and friends of the workmen might watch the launch, and in 
the mould-loft — on flag-decorated tables — he had had a luxurious lunch 
laid out. The novelty of the day — and it was a thrilling one for those 
who went to every launch and could predict the future of a vessel 
from the way she took the water — was the fact that the Surprise 
was fully rigged, with all her running gear in place, and skysail yards 
across. The launching of a vessel was always a tormenting occasion, 
particularly for the builder, since from the moment the draughtsman 
first put pencil to paper, to trace out her design, to the day when 
she received her new suit of snow-white sails, it was necessary that 
every particular conformed to a carefully calculated formula. One 
variation between her conception and her creation might have caused 
her lines to deflect as she hit the water — the very position of a mast 
might have exerted an important influence on the qualities of the 
ship and determined to a great extent her capacity to sail. The fact 
that the Surprise entered the water without a hitch was evidence of 
Mr. Hall's supreme ability as a master of precision. The Surprise was 
a 1,262-ton vessel with a length of 183 feet, a depth of 22 feet, 38-foot 
beam, and dead-rise of 30 inches. Her figurehead was a gilded flying 
eagle; the arms of New York were carved upon her stern. 

As soon as the Surprise was ready for sea she was towed around 
to New York by Boston's famous ocean-going tug, the R. B. Forbes 
— another vessel in whose designing Pook had had a hand. She took 
on 1,800 tons of cargo valued at $200,000, and the New York Herald 
thrilled with: "The handsomest ship ever seen in this port." By Decem- 
ber 13 the Surprise was leaving for San Francisco under the command 
of Captain Philip Dumaresq, who had learned fast sailing in the 
opium trade. Forty-five days previously the pre-clipper Helena, com- 
manded by Captain John Land of Rainbow fame, cleared for 'Frisco, 
and on December 15 the new Baltimore-built clipper Sea Nymph 


followed out on the heels of the Surprise. On March 19, 1851, Hall's 
ship was beating into San Francisco, second clipper in of the season, 
with a new record of 96 days 15 hours. The Helena had put into 
port six days before; the Sea Nymph did not arrive until 61 days 

The Surprise was one of the most profitable clippers ever con- 
structed. Her freight on this first trip amounted to $78,000, and the 
list of her cargo filled a manifest twenty-five feet long. From Cali- 
fornia Dumaresq took her across to Canton, where the fame of her 
new-made record won her a charter for the London teas at the same 
price commanded by the Oriental the year before. She arrived in 
London on November 12 in the unfavorable-season run of 106 days 
12 hours, her freight receipts by this time totaling a sum sufficient 
to pay for her entire cost and running expenses, with a profit of 
$50,000 left over. 

In 1852 Captain Dumaresq resigned to take command of the Bald 
Eagle — then a new clipper built by Donald McKay for George B. 
Upton, of Boston — and the Surprise passed to Captain Charles Ranlett. 
From then on for twenty-four years she continued to make excellent 
passages and profits. In 1853 she sailed from Shanghai to New York 
in 98 days, but in '56 and '57 * she made the same run in little more 
than 82 days apiece, shipping it green all the way. After going into 
drydock for copper and repairs after the last run, the Surprise was 
again ready for a fling at the China trade, in which she stayed until 
1876. On February 4 of that year she struck a sunken rock just outside 
of Yokohama and was completely lost. 

* The log for this passage is given in Appendix III. 

Voyaqe of the Clipper Ship SURPRISE 


January Z - March 2.5, 1857 

90 60 30 30 60 90 120 

90 60 30 30 60 90 IZO 


California Clipper 


l ll through 1850 letters from California — nearly 125,000 of which 
were received during the closing quarter of the year — piled up in 
white drifts at the New York Post Office, and nearly all ended with: 
"There seems to be no end to the gold!" — a refrain so dynamite- 
loaded that it seemed, at times, as if it were capable of blowing the 
entire population of the eastern coast westward to California. The gold 
hysteria grew less and less controllable — but there were sound reasons 
for it. From the time of Marshall's discovery more than forty-one 
millions of dollars' worth of the metal had been dug out of the ground 
like so many potatoes or shaken, like alien dust, out of the sand and 
gravel of streams. The need for gold — not for greenbacks, nor for 
coins, but for the metal itself — was so acute in early nineteenth-century 
America as to seem, today, incomprehensible. But the fact remains: 
early America had little money and she had, save for the "fool's gold" 
of Jamestown and the small amounts discovered in Georgia and the 
Carolinas, no gold! 

During the space of colonial days everything from wampum to 
musket balls served for money; in 1781 barbers papered their shops 
with the worthless Continentals; issues of paper money were received 
with mixed feelings, and, to the early 1840's, English, French, and 
Spanish coins were commoner than those of the United States. Charles 
Dickens observed this fact when he visited America, and entered it 

in his notebook with amazement. He observed as well that, for ^5 in 



gold, there were not a few men in the Middle West who would 
murder their fathers. 

Less than nine years later the Reverend Walter Colton, U.S.N., jot- 
ting down his observations in San Francisco, presented an entirely 
different picture. "Hazards are made in commercial transactions and 
projects of speculation, that would throw Wall-street into spasms," he 
wrote. "I have seen merchants purchase cargoes without having even 
glanced into the invoice. ... In one cargo, when tumbled out, were 
found twenty thousand dollars in the single article of red cotton 
handkerchiefs ! 'I'll get rid of these among the wild Indians,' said the 
purchaser, with a shrug of his shoulders. 'I've a water-lot which I 
will sell,' cries another. 'Which way does it stretch?' inquire half a 
dozen. 'Right under that craft there,' is the reply. 'And what do you 
ask for it?' 'Fifteen thousand dollars.' 'I'll take it.' 'Then down with 
your dust.' So the water-lot, which mortal eyes never yet beheld, 
changes its owners without changing its fish. 'I have two shares in a 
gold mine,' cries another. 'Where are they?' inquire a crowd. 'Under 
the south branch of the Yuba river, which we have almost turned,' is 
the reply. 'And what will you take?' 'Fifteen thousand dollars.' 'I'll 
give ten.' 'Take them, stranger.' " 

Thus the California stories ran. Men and women mobbed the ship- 
ping offices demanding tickets for the land of gold and wild finance, 
and were willing to pay any price for any type of accommodation. 
Merchandise was arriving by way of lakes, canals, rivers, and railroads 
for shipment to miners who little cared how they scattered their "dust," 
and freights were proportionately very high. Lynx-eyed merchants 
bent over statements, straightened, and ordered new ships. In six 
months' time the state of Maine built and launched 326 vessels, New 
York followed with 224, Pennsylvania was third with 185, Massa- 
chusetts fourth with 121, and Maryland fifth with 150. In all, 1,360 
vessels, of which 159 were steamers, were built within six months 
in 1850. Among the 247 ships that were built, there were a few more 
shapely than the rest, with beautiful, unforgettable names: White 
Squall, Witchcraft, Sea Serpent, Race Horse, Stag Hound. 

Stag Hound 


It was the building of this last vessel that brought the word "genius" 
— not for the first time, but to the very end of time — into close asso- 
ciation with the clipper; since the Stag Hound marked the entry, 
into the ranks of clipper builders, of the master-builder of them all — 
Donald McKay. In time the term "clipper fever" became synonymous 
with "gold fever"; in time the clipper became synonymous with 
America's brief moment of supremacy upon the seas ; and in time the 
word "clipper" itself brought to mind the name of one man — Donald 
McKay. His name stands today, as it did then, at the head of the 
list that includes such brilliant ship-designers of the nineteenth cen- 
tury as Webb, Griffiths, Pook, Steers, Lenthall, and Delano. America 
owes more to Donald McKay than to any other man for her part in 
making the sailing ship a fabric of surpassing beauty and the Stars 
and Stripes of ocean-wide fame. Yet Donald McKay was not, by birth, 
an American. He was born on September 4, 18 10, at Shelburne, Nova 
Scotia — grandson of Donald McKay, once of Tain, Ross-shire, Scot- 

At the age of sixteen young Donald came to New York and began 
his career as an apprentice — to learn the rudiments of ships' carpentry 
— at the yards of the Connecticut Yankee builder Isaac Webb, then 
located on the East River front from Fifth to Seventh Streets. Six 
years later he was free-lancing for Webb, for Brown & Bell, and for 
Smith & Dimon. Then followed marriage with the daughter of John 
Boole, the shipbuilder, as well as a period of stimulating companion- 
ship with John Willis Griffiths, sharing the latter's admiration for the 
Ann McKim. 

An unpleasant interlude of employment at the Brooklyn Navy Yard 
prefaced a trip to Wiscasset, Maine, where he drafted and superin- 
tended the building of some ships for Brown & Bell. Visiting New- 
buryport in 1840 he finished the ship Delia Walter for John Currier, 
Jr., and a year later entered into a partnership with William Currier, 
also of Newburyport. The Courier, which was the most famous ship 
built during this partnership, was launched in 1842, and, during the 


ten years that preceded her final end in the Falklands, she succeeded 
in making many notable passages in the Rio coffee trade. 

After McKay's first partnership was dissolved, another was entered 
into with William Pickett — and the St. George, John R. S\iddy, and 
Joshua Bates were built. The St. George was the pioneer packet of 
the Red Cross Line of New York to Liverpool packets. She was later 
destroyed by fire in the English Channel — a fate which pursued many 
of the McKay vessels. The John R. S\iddy was also a packet, owned 
by William and Francis Skiddy, and sailed between New York and 
Liverpool in the '40's. She went ashore the beginning of April, 1850, 
on the coast of Wexford, Ireland. The Joshua Bates, built for Enoch 
Train of Boston, was the prelude to McKay's later connection with 
Mr. Train and with the latter's famous White Diamond Line of 
Boston-Liverpool packets. In 1862 she was purchased by Francis E. 
Beaver of Melbourne, in 1864 by Lowe Kong Meng, and in 1872 by 
William Henry Bean of Adelaide. A few months after the last pur- 
chase she was condemned at Mauritius. 

In 1845 McKay was in Boston, had built his own residence on 
White Street, and was launched on a shipbuilding career that was 
entirely his own. From his yards at the foot of Border Street, East 
Boston — a spot favored by Boston shipbuilders because of the splendid 
anchorage offered, everywhere from Jeffries Point to Chelsea Bridge, 
for vessels of the greatest draught even during the violent northeast 
gales — one famous vessel after another emerged. The Washington 
Irving, built for Enoch Train, was launched on September 15, 1845; 
the lavishly carved Anglo-Saxon and the New World, which were 
launched just in time to profit by the Irish potato famine, left the ways 
in September, 1846; in July, 1847, was launched the little Ocean Mon- 
arch which figured in the tragic burning of 178 immigrants the month 
before the Sea Witch established her all-time record run from China; 
and the A. Z., built for Zerega & Company, followed three months 
later. The year 1848 saw the launching of the Anglo- American, Jenny 
hind, and L. Z.; in 1849 the Plymouth Roc\, Helicon, Reindeer, 
and Parliament were built; and then, in 1850, there followed in rapid 


succession the Moses Wheeler, Sultana, Cornelius Grinnell, Antarctic, 
Daniel Webster, and the California clipper Stag Hound. 

Ten thousand people gathered on the 7th of December, 1850, to see 
the sculpture-clean body of the Stag Hound pierce the waters of Bos- 
ton Harbor. One can picture that launching. The Stag Hound herself 
lay tense in her cradle as steam rose high from the boiling whale-oil 
being poured upon frozen tallow. The christening was quick, with rum 
that came, fittingly enough, from Medford where the first New- 
England-built vessel Blessing of the Bay had been built and launched 
two hundred and nineteen years before. The great vessel stirred as 
the tallow melted, seemed to come alive, and suddenly streaked to 
the waters as cheers rose high and mingled with the notes of the bells 
of Boston flaking downward in the icy air. 

The Stag Hound, with a registered tonnage of 1,534, was me largest 
merchant vessel of her day, and was, together with the Flying Cloud, 
perhaps the most happily named of all the clippers. We catch, in one, 
a swift sense of lithe, animal grace ; in the other, a vision of ethereally 
massed, moving majesty; and, in both, a combination that expresses, 
alow and aloft, the very poetry of motion. 

The steam-tug R. B. Forbes, her brilliant red hull filled with impor- 
tance like a band leader's coat, towed the Stag Hound down to New 
York, where the new clipper gave the citizens their first tart taste 
of dangerous Boston competition. Not since the days of the Rainbow 
had a sharp ship aroused so much comment. Granted that she was 
an imposing sight with her 215 feet * of leanness, with the blue and 
white of her house-flag calling attention to her towering height of 
mainmast, and with her 86-foot horizontal reach of mainyard and 
11,000-yard spread of canvas, there was, nevertheless, great anxiety 
expressed about her ability to "weather it," although there was no 
doubt about her potential speed. The figurehead of a panting stag 
hound accentuated the feeling of swiftness imparted by the design of 

* It will be noted that the measurements given in the text do not always agree with 
those given on the plans. The measurements given in the text are the registered dimen- 
sions; those given on the plans are derived from the plan sources. 


the ship in its entirety; and her bow, arching upward a good five 
feet higher than her stern, gave her the appearance of an animal ready 
to "go," and straining at her leash. There was a thought that she 
would bury when driven; and the marine underwriters, with this 
idea in mind and believing that her 39 feet of elliptical narrowness 
and 21-foot depth were out of all proportion with her length, charged 
extra premiums to insure her. There were others who thought differ- 
ently, however, and she lost no time in picking up a cargo at $1.40 a 
cubic foot — a nice $70,000 profit in freight. 

On February 1, 1851, with her cargo stowed and forty-six hands 
aboard, she made sail and, picking up a strong westerly breeze, cut 
out of New York on the ebb-tide for 'Frisco. In 108 sailing days she 
was there; in spite of the fact that she had lost her mainmast and 
three topgallant masts six days out at sea, she crossed the Equator 
21 days from Sandy Hook, and arrived at Valparaiso with a jury-rig 
a bare 30 days later. Captain Josiah Richardson wrote back to George 
B. Upton and Sampson & Tappan, her owners: "The ship is yet to 
be built to beat the Stag Hound I am in love with the ship. . . ." 

After discharging her cargo at San Francisco, the Stag Hound was 
ready for sea again on June 26. She sailed first to Manila and from 
thence to Canton for tea, arriving at the latter port on the 26th of 
September. The Oriental, Surprise, Memnon, and White Squall had 
already come and gone from China with teas for the London market 
that year and, with the arrival of another fine ship like the Stag 
Hound and the new clippers that England was building, it began to 
look as if the Reverend Doctor Bridgman, out in Shanghai, had been 
right when he wrote home the previous year that "the shipping has 
increased with great rapidity, and it will probably continue to do so." 
The letter that Captain Crocker brought home from Doctor Bridgman 
in 1850 in the Horatio gave 137 sail as the number lying in 1849 off 
Shanghai alone. 

The Stag Hound brought her tea to New York, and after its sale had 
enough money grossed out of her various transactions to pay her own 
cost and hand over an additional $80,000 to her owners — yet Donald 


McKay had designed, draughted, and built the ship in 60 days, and 
she had been away from home but ten months and 23 days over. 

Captain C. F. W. Behm took the Stag Hound out to 'Frisco on her 
second voyage, sailing from New York on the first day of March, 
1852, and arriving there on the fourth of July. She had taken 124 
days to complete the passage, but had had the ill-fortune to run into 
a twenty-day calm while still a thousand miles out of San Francisco. 
Nineteen days later she was out to sea again, and racing the Sea 
Serpent to Whampoa won the race with a good nine days' margin. 
The date of her arrival in China was September 6, 1852; she was away 
again on the 25th and put into New York 95 days later. 

The Stag Hound had none of the fine breezes that blessed the 
careers of ships like the Sea Witch, Surprise, and later clippers, and 
as a result none of the passages of her entire career were very exciting. 
In 1853 it took her 127 days to reach San Francisco, although the 
passage was made longer by a ten-day stay at Juan Fernandez taking 
in water. Her China passage that year was made in 61 days, but sailing 
homeward, during which time she battled with a five-day typhoon, 
she made the fine run of 89 days — eight days over the all-time record 
of the Oriental. Her 1854 passage to San Francisco took no days, 
from thence to Hongkong 49 days, and from Shanghai to London 91 
days from Java Head. She returned once again to Hongkong and 
from thence sailed home in 122 days. 

In 1857 she repeated her 108-day passage to San Francisco, sailing, 
however, from Boston. This was followed by a 51 -day sail to Hong- 
kong, and a homeward run from Foochow of 113 days. In 1858, Cap- 
tain Samuel B. Hussey in command, she sailed from Boston to the Line 
in 18 days, and beating her way around the Horn through moun- 
tainous seas made her last port in San Francisco in 121 days. Her 
voyage to Hongkong that year was made in 58 days. 

In i860 she was sold to E. & R. W. Sears of Boston, and in the 
spring of the following year Captain Lowber, her new skipper, was 
awarded a prize by James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald 
for outracing the mail steamer America to London with a copy of 


Lincoln's first inaugural address. Failing to pick up an Australian 
charter at this point, as had been desired by her owners, she took on 
a cargo of Newcasde coal for San Francisco, Captain Wilson in 

The Stag Hound's last cargo proved to be her undoing; off Brazil 
she took fire from spontaneous combustion. As she filled with smoke, 
Captain Wilson pulled the American ensign from her sail locker, 
wound it around his body, and jumped into the boat. He and the 
crew reached shore in safety. Of the Stag Hound there was nothing 
left for delivery to her owners but a large bundle, in which Captain 
Wilson had wrapped the Stars and Stripes. 





Lower plans 
'/ 3 3cal«oF 
Uppar Plans 



Designed by Donald Mc Kay 


Drawn from 
hauls report 

L»no»K 209 ft 
Baam .99* ft. 
Dopfh 2l>t. 


California Clipper 


t is uncertain whether the "chicken fever" of the mid-nineteenth 
century had anything to do with the naming of Samuel Hall's clipper 
ship Game Coc\, which was launched just fourteen days after the 
Stag Hound left the ways; but the "chicken fever" itself throws an 
amusing sidelight on a period that was noted for pulses that raced 
alike over matters important and trivial. 

In 1849, Boston held an exhibition of fancy poultry. That was the 
beginning, and in the following year twenty thousand people gathered 
to gaze upon twelve thousand of the Oriental birds. Ten years before, 
the value of poultry in the United States was twelve millions of dollars, 
round figures; after i860 it had risen to over sixty millions. What 
effect the "chicken fever" had upon increasing values during the decade 
between 1850 and i860 is not known, since the censuses for those 
years were not taken; but, during the boom exhibition years between 
1850 and 1855, eggs were selling at three dollars a dozen and hens 
at ten dollars the pair, and chickens of favorite breeds were referred 
to in public — even by men like Clay and Webster — in the most aston- 
ishing terms of affection. 

The "gambling fever" was equally high in those days, and many 
a wager was placed upon ships of the caliber of the Game Coc\ when 
merchants gathered before the midday meal in front of the old Ex- 
change in Boston or, after a busy day, for a glass of grog at the Astor 
House bar in New York City. The Game Coc\, appropriately enough, 
was matched from the very moment of her launch. The day she slid 


Qame Qoc\ 


down the ways in Boston, the superstitious of Salem were predicting 
an ill future for the new clipper Witchcraft, which was receiving her 
first trial by water on that very day. Both ships were designed by 
Pook and they were similarly proportioned. The Game Coc\ was a 
ship of 1,392 tons; the Witchcraft, of 1,310. The Game Coc\ was 187 
feet long; the Witchcraft, 190 feet 6 inches. Each had a 39-foot beam 
and a 22-foot draft. The former had 40 inches dead-rise; the latter, 35. 
The Game Coc\ was built by Samuel Hall of Boston and owned 
by Daniel C. Bacon and Robert L. Taylor of that city. The Witchcraft 
was built by Paul Curtis of Chelsea and owned by William D. Pickman 
and Richard S. Rogers of Salem. Both had received their outfits and 
had their California cargoes stowed under their hatches in April, 
1851. On the third of that month the Game Coc\, Captain Lewis G. 
Hollis in command, raced out of New York, followed on the fourth 
by the Witchcraft, Captain William C. Rogers in command. 

In May, after weeks of relentless driving, the two ships brought up 
in the capacious and beautiful harbor of Rio de Janeiro. The Game 
Coc\, with her mainmast sprung, made her wary way into port on 
May 10, thirty-seven days out; and the Witchcraft put in four days 
later minus her mizzen. 

The entrance to Rio Harbor faces south and opens into the quiet, 
island-studded waters of a great oval basin believed once to have been 
hidden within an unbroken circle of mountains until the dammed-up 
waters, by their own force, burst down the barrier between and found 
an outlet to the sea. At the rise of the tide those sailing vessels of long 
ago floated easily, without the need of a pilot, over the bar at the 
harbor's mouth and passed between the guarded entrance, with the fan- 
tastic granite peaks of Gavia, the Sugar Loaf, and Corcovada rearing 
skyward on the left and — on the right — the lofty fortified castle of 
Santa Cruz. As the ships' anchors rippled the surface of the water into a 
thousand reflected shapes, the passengers saw before them the low 
buildings of San Sebastian, San Domingo, and Praya Grande thrown 
into somber contrast by the deep green vegetation of the mountains, 


out of whose recesses dozens of little rills leaped downward and cut 
their frolicking way across a glittering beach. 

Shoreward a flight of wooden steps led upward to a seawall and 
a parapet, and just beyond lay the violent impact of foreign and 
native life. It cannot be said that the traveler of the 1850's was favorably 
impressed with the human side of Rio — but around the solid rock 
sides of Snake Island, which was separated by a channel from the 
city, vessels of the largest burden were afforded perfect security and 
access to near-by wharves, dockyards, magazines, arsenals, naval 
stores, a sheer-hulk, and facilities for heaving-down and careening. By 
a special edict of the Emperor, Americans on their way to California 
were allowed the greatest liberty. Homes were sometimes thrown open 
and courtesies extended, but it was apparent that when many Ameri- 
can ships were in the harbor the women were closely guarded and 
seldom visited the streets. 

Signal Hill and the Sugar Loaf were to look down on many dis- 
abled American clippers before the Gold Rush days were over, and 
the ships were to be seen, as well, in increasing numbers by the moun- 
tains of other towns along the South American coast. The Game 
Coc\ was forced to discharge at great expense to effect repairs and — 
during her 57 days' wait in port — her sailors and passengers had ample 
time to acquaint themselves with the city. 

The visitor would have landed on the beautiful chiseled-granite quay, 
passed across the public square, with its granite foundation and glisten- 
ing surface of quartzose sand, observed its fountain sparkling in the 
center, decided that the palace, the cathedral, the theater, the convents, 
and the opera house were not too magnificent, and passed into the city 
proper. Here the American was shocked to see the close mingling of 
blacks and whites, and to learn of the frequent marriages between 
them; he was worried by the constant ringing of church bells; he was 
irritated by the hustle-and-bustle and irreligious theater-going on Sun- 
days; he hated eating farina and food rolled in the flour of the manioc 
root; he was pestered by the mosquitoes; and, above all things, he 
fretted and fumed and was disgusted, in a city that lacked even the 


most primitive forms of sanitation, by the smells. Perhaps that was all 
he remembered when he finally put to sea again. For others, however, 
there were colorful days in the Rua Ouvidor with its shops and fabrics 
and fashions, and in the Rua d'Ourives with its fortunes in jewels; 
there were the unforgettable Brazilian fruits, unmatched elsewhere in 
the world ; there were moments watching the water-carriers come and 
go from the fountain of Hafariz with their water-jars atop their heads; 
and there was amusement looking on at the half-naked negro laun- 
dresses beating their clothes at the public basins. There were curious 
days spent in churches whose altars were inlaid with silver and gold, 
and hung about with the waxen counterparts of diseased portions of 
the body — in honor of saints who had brought about cures; and there 
was the vivid pageantry of saints' days, when the huge choir gathered 
and organs and flutes and hautboys played, when orange petals were 
strewn on the steps and streets, when black-robed women in white 
lace shawls and garlands of flowers knelt at prayer, and firecrackers, 
set off in front of the church, preceded and closed the ceremony. 
There were long, lazy afternoons sitting on a bench at the Botanic 
Gardens, looking out over the bay where scores of European flags 
scrolled from the spars of anchored vessels, and swarms of little canoes 
and feluccas sped back and forth over the water on coundess errands. 
There were long, rambling walks surrounded by the scented foliage 
of growing cinnamon, red pepper, clove, mango, mimosa, terrestrial 
orchids, bougainvillea, fruit trees, palm trees, breadfruit trees, and 
bamboo; and there were little excursions to Sugar Loaf, to the forest 
primeval, and into the beautiful litde suburbs where the many Ameri- 
can and English merchants had built their homes. 

The Game Coc\ and Witchcraft were fortunate in having arrived 
at Brazil during the most favorable period of the year; but, of the two, 
the Witchcraft was the more fortunate in that she was able to leave 
port 26 days before her rival. The two ships parted company on May 
10, and the Witchcraft went on to set a 62-day all-time record passage 
from Rio to San Francisco, and to put to rest many an old Salem super- 
stition. Her net sailing days from New York amounted to 102. 


The Game Coc\ set sail from Rio on July 6, but her luck for the 
remainder of that passage did not better. She arrived at the Golden 
Gate on October 5, in 91 days from Rio, 127 net sailing days from 
New York. From San Francisco she set sail on November 1 for Hono- 
lulu, which she reached in sixteen days. From Honolulu she made the 
excellent passage of 19 days to Hongkong, averaging 261 miles a day, 
and equaling the record passage made by the Memnon in 1850. On 
January 17, 1852, she arrived at Bombay, 33 days later. 

During the latter part of the same year the clipper ship Grey Feather, 
which had been built in Maine in 1850, the Trade Wind, a year-old 
clipper from the yards of Jacob Bell, and the Game Coc\ were at their 
loading berths in New York at the same time, taking in freight for 
California. The first ship cleared on the 4th of November; the second 
ship, heavily laden with 4,300 tons of measured cargo and forty-six 
first-class passengers, was out on the 13th; and the Game Coc\ fol- 
lowed three days later. 

The Trade Wind was the first to arrive in California, putting in 
on the 24th of February after a 103-day passage. When the Game Coc\ 
arrived on the 10th of March, 114 days out, two other ships came in 
with her. These were the Meteor, which had sailed from Boston on 
November 17, and the Telegraph, which had sailed from the same 
port on November 15. The passage of the former was 113 days, and 
of the latter, 115 days. The Game Coc\ with her 114-day passage 
figured second in both races. The Grey Feather brought up the rear 
five days later with a 126-day passage. 

In August, 1853, the Telegraph made a record passage of 58 days 
from Valparaiso to Boston; and just seven days before the Game Coc\ 
arrived at San Francisco in April, 1854, 115 days out, the Telegraph 
chalked up another record by arriving at the Golden Gate 34 days 
from Valparaiso. In March of the same year the Witchcraft was sold 
to T. Magoun & Son of Boston. In 1855 the Game Coc\ made a slow 
run of 150 days to San Francisco. In 1857 the Telegraph was burned, 
repaired, and renamed the Henry Brigham. Two years later the 
Meteor made a record passage of 15% days from 50° South Pacific 

GAJWZ cock 91 

to the Equator, and in 1861 the Witchcraft was lost near Hatteras in 
the month of April. 

From then on the other ships began to disappear, one by one, from 
familiar harbors. In 1862 the little 586-ton Grey Feather, which had 
been built in 1850 by C. S. Huston of Eastport, Maine, for L. H. 
Sampson & Co. of New York, was sold at Bremen; and the 1,068 ton 
Meteor, built in 1852 by E. & H. O. Briggs for Curtis & Peabody of 
Boston, was sold to England. In 1865, the 1,068-ton Telegraph, built 
by J. O. Curtis of Medford for P. & S. Sprague of Boston, was sold in 
Peru and three years later was burned at sea. 

The Game Coc\, which had outlived all her old rivals although she 
had never won a contest, was abandoned off the Cape of Good Hope 
in 1880. 


California Clipper 


s 1850 drew to a close and the year 1851 was flung open to a new 
train of major events, a flotsam and jetsam of news from the far 
corners of the seas was washed in to the port of New York. Most of 
the incidents were of the vintage of the latter '40's, but the knowledge 
of them traveled homeward by slow and devious routes — as befitted 
the passage of all things that had nothing to do with gold. 

Some of the mysteries of lost ships and delayed passages were cleared 
up, and between the lines of laconic and somewhat callous reports 
one catches a glimpse of the spread fingers of tragedy that raked the 
seas with undeviating regularity in those days, and wrote their signa- 
ture in the hieroglyphics of snapped spars, charred timbers, and gut- 
ted hulls. 

The barque Chalcedony was ashore at Talcahuano, and the brig 
Rodman was ashore in the Straits of Magellan; the brig Mechanic 
was breaking up at the mouth of the Chagres, and the ship Fanchon, 
afire 1,200 miles from land, was reported burnt to the water's edge. 
There had been people aboard these ships; little manikins of the 
past who shouted and screamed, or who had looked calmly at the sky 
and the waves and said, "This is death"; but their names and the 
names of the ships mean nothing today. One reads of them in the 
annals of the sea and looks back at them coldly ; they are a little, rep- 
resentative group of cameos cut straight from the heart of tragedy, 
nothing less, yet nothing more. 

In Hobart Town the Courier published an account of the wreck of 


John 'Bertram 


the packet fames Monroe and noted the arrival of part of her crew 
and passengers, out of the sea, in the longboat. The John Q. Adams, 
commanded by Captain Nickels who was to win later fame in the 
clipper ship Flying Fish, put in at Boston from Calcutta with word 
of a collision with the barque Hindoo, laden with coal from New- 
castle. The message was terse: she sank in about ten minutes; captain, 
officers, and crew were saved. The schooner Mary and Helen brought 
home Captain Douglass and his crew from the wreck of the Robert 
Ramsey, blown down in a hurricane. The captain had a harrowing 
story to tell of ten days at sea without water and no food to eat but 
a little raw flour. When boarded by the rescuers, three-foot seas were 
surging over the disabled vessel amidships. The ship Isaac Webb, 
homeward bound from Liverpool, was struck twice by lightning. 
Two of her seamen were killed, and five disabled. The barque Chan- 
ning was burnt off the coast of Brazil, and the crew rowed sixty heart- 
breaking hours in open boats before they reached land. In a heavy 
shower of rain, lightning shivered the mainmast of the brig Lincoln 
and communicated fire to her hold. Four days later her crew was 
saved. The barque Lucy Ellen was capsized in a white squall, and the 
ship Hemisphere was dismantled. Two men were killed, and two 
washed overboard. 

Other news came in. In August, 1850, an account was published of 
Captain Glynn's rescue, in the U. S. ship Preble, of sixteen American 
seamen imprisoned in Japan. Fifteen were survivors of the shipwrecked 
crew of the whaleship Lagoda of New Bedford, and the sixteenth 
was Ronald McDonald of the whaleship Fly mouth, who had entered 
Japan when prompted by a desire to learn more of that secret country 
and its inhabitants. The rescue was not without its comic-opera 
touches, but it was effected in spite of attempts to "shoo away" the 
American ship and to frighten the crew by an imposing array of land 
fortifications painted upon a canvas back-drop. The rescue of the men, 
together with the information they had collected about the country, 
was considered of first importance to the outside world ; and one can 
grant that, in their small way, they too had done their pioneering share 


towards changing Japan from a land of mystery into another port of 

The details of Captain Glynn's rescue were scarcely "yesterday's 
news" when it became known that Captain McMichael, out in Webb's 
fast China packet Montau\, had discovered a new island (latitude 
2 7° 35' to 2 8° 4°' North by longitude 129 05' to 130 18' East) 
between the Loo Choo Islands and Japan, when he was out that way 
in November, 1849, on a passage from Sydney to China. 

Then from Turk's Islands, down around the Bahamas, came word 
from the American Consul of a botde washed ashore at Long Bay. 
Inside the bottle was a note from J. C. Walch, Lieutenant-Commander 
of the U. S. schooner Taney, requesting the finder to report the time 
and place picked up to Lieutenant M. F. Maury, Superintendent of 
the National Observatory at Washington. In 172 days it had cruised 
along the Equatorial current into the Caribbean Sea to the Gulf of 
Mexico, past the Tortugas and Key West, and through the old Provi- 
dence Channel to Turk's Islands. To us the meanderings of the little 
bottle are of no importance; its real significance lies in the glimpse 
it gives of the quiet workings of that remarkable man: Lieutenant Mat- 
thew Fontaine Maury, the "Pathfinder of the Sea." Without his work 
on his celebrated wind and current charts, many of the fast passages 
of the later clipper ships would never have been made; and without 
the material he painstakingly amassed relative to the physical geogra- 
phy of the sea, the temperature of air and water, clouds, and the 
strength and direction of winds and currents — by means as simple and 
unobtrusive as the cruise of the little bottle — the old "rule of thumb" 
methods of navigation would probably have prevailed aboard the naval 
and merchant vessels of the world, until long after the clipper ship 
era was over. 

Two events, each in striking contrast to the other, opened the year 
1 85 1. In Boston a Captain Ballard of the ship Rambler was fined $190 
for cruelly beating three sailors, and in New York Captain Henry R. 
Hovey, of the ship Devonshire, was awarded a gold box and given 
a framed testimonial of thanks by Mayor C. S. Woodhull, in behalf of 


the city of New York, for the heroic rescue, by himself and his men, 
of the 175 persons who composed the passenger and crew list of the 
new steamer Helena Sloman, of Hamburg, wrecked in November, 

About the time Captain Hovey received his gold box in January, 
two of the new 1850 clippers, the Sea Serpent and the Eclipse, were at 
their loading berths in New York, while up in Boston the owners of 
the fine new clipper John Bertram were preparing her for her maiden 
voyage to 'Frisco. The John Bertram — named for Captain Bertram, 
merchant and seaman of Salem — was a sharp, but not extremely nar- 
row, ship of 1,080 tons measuring: length, 180 feet, beam, 37 feet, and 
depth, 20 feet. She had been built in 1850, in the short space of sixty- 
one days, by Elwell & Jackson of East Boston for Flint, Peabody & Co. 
and Glidden & Williams. She was the pioneer clipper of the latter's 
line of San Francisco clippers. 

On January 11 the John Bertram, commanded by Captain Freder- 
ick Lendholm, was out of Boston. The same day the Sea Serpent, 
commanded by Captain William Howland, and the Grey Feather, 
commanded by Captain Daniel McLaughlin, sailed from New York. 
A day later, from the latter port, the Philadelphia-built clipper-barque 
Isabelita Hyne sailed, followed on the 15th by the Eclipse, a crack 
clipper built by Jabez Williams of Williamsburg. These were the first 
clippers to sail in 185 1, and they were out to break the 97-day record of 
the Sea Witch or, failing that, to better the 104-day mark of the Celes- 
tial or even the twin 109-day passages of the Race Horse and the 
Samuel Russell — the best passages of 1850. 

On March 18 the Eclipse put into Valparaiso with some of her spars 
and sails missing — evidence enough of a racing master and a wild 
drive round the Horn ; on March 25 — a day after Valparaiso had had 
one of her more startling earthquake shocks — the Sea Serpent put in 
with a sprung bowsprit and lost spars and sails; and on the 29th the 
John Bertram was in with both mainmast and bowsprit sprung. The 
wreck-strewn passages of 1851 had made a good beginning, and, even 
if no other records were to be broken that year, it seemed certain that 


one record — the number of "lame ducks" putting into Valparaiso for 
repairs — would surpass the grand total of 1850. 

For Valparaiso was blooming in the backwash of the Gold Rush. 
During the course of 1850 six times as many American seaman — an 
approximate 15,000 — visited the port as had done in 1849. Her streets 
were filled with deserters, and boarding-house keepers were busily un- 
dermining the morale of every sailor that chanced ashore. Conscien- 
tious captains soon knew her as one of the "dreadful ports" : one with 
inadequate accommodations, plenty of temptations, and little protec- 
tion from either disease or the staggering bills that a common sailor 
could cancel only by deserting one ship and seeking advance pay from 
another when he shipped again. 

The Eclipse, the Sea Serpent, and the John Bertram were in port 
less than a month effecting repairs and then were out again on the last 
leg of the journey, destined to chalk up fair passages but to leave those 
of the crack clippers of 1850 still standing. The Sea Serpent was the 
first to reach the Golden Gate, 114 sailing days from New York; the 
Isabelita Hyne put in on the following day, May 18, 125 sailing days 
out; the Eclipse arrived on May 20 with the shortest passage — 112 
sailing days, which included the very fine run of 62 days from New 
York to Valparaiso; the Grey Feather arrived with the longest passage 
— 138 days — on May 30, though it must be remembered that she was 
a very small ship; and the John Bertram followed on June 3 with an- 
other 125-day passage. 

During the interim that had elapsed between the swift entry of the 
Surprise, with her record-breaking passage, earlier in the year, and the 
arrival of the Sea Serpent on May 17, San Francisco had had the third 
fire of her tempestuous three-year gold-fever career; but the whispers 
of arson that were steadily rising into loud-voiced demonstrations of 
wrath all over the city did not interfere with a gay dinner party given 
in honor of Captain Hamilton of the Eclipse at the Niantic Hotel, that 
curious hostelry whose cellar was the buried old hulk of the Niantic — 
a British ship made derelict in 1849 by the overwhelming desire on 
the part of her captain and crew to rush to the goldmines. 


Other, secret developments were providing a titillating undercurrent 
of anxiety and hope to the town, however. Shortly after May 3, the 
first Committee of Vigilance was organized by a hundred of the more 
peacefully inclined residents of San Francisco, who had tired of the 
slow-footed and none-too-sure official justice of '49 and '50 and had 
come to the decision that the time was over-ripe for introducing a few 
quick-step measures of their own. In brief, their main reason for unit- 
ing was to drive out incendiarism and crime, forcibly but fairly, by 
means of their own law courts, their own trials, and their own concep- 
tions of punishment. 

San Francisco did not have long to wait for the Committee of Vigi- 
lance to go into action. Thirty minutes after the first meeting was 
over on the night of June 10, the city's fire-bell tapped out two notes, 
and again two notes. This was the pre-arranged signal for an emer- 
gency meeting of the Vigilantes, and within the next three hours 
and a half, the first captured criminal — an ex-convict named Jenkins 
from Sydney — was tried for a freshly committed robbery and found 
guilty. Before two o'clock was past, the feet of Jenkins drummed a 
silent tattoo against a receding floor, as the fire-bells tolled a melan- 
choly dirge, and the pianos of the El Dorado and the Bella Union 
pounded out a dance-step. He was hanged from the gable of the famous 
"old adobe," while the light from the open doors of the dancehalls 
poured lemon-yellow patches across the Plaza and threw into grotesque 
outlines the upturned faces of the watchers, including those of the wide- 
eyed, open-mouthed, astonished sailors of the recendy arrived John 

The Bertram was out of San Francisco on July 5, thirteen days after 
the city had had another fire — the worst in her history — and six days 
before James Stuart of the "Sydney Ducks" was hanged for a score 
or more major and minor offenses. Fifty-eight days later, homeward 
bound, she chalked up an all-time record run from San Francisco to 

In 1852 she was again at San Francisco, arriving out on March 26 
in one of the best twelve passages of the year — 106 days from Boston. 


She had sailed from her home port on the 12th of December, and her 
outward passage surpassed that of all other ships sailing near the 
same time. The Seaman's Bride, a year-old clipper built in Baltimore, 
sailed on December 10 and did not arrive in San Francisco until the 
following May, although she was only 119 sailing days on the way. 
The Hurricane and the Invincible, sailing on December 17 and 20 
respectively, were 120 and 115 days on the way. 

From San Francisco the Bertram swept on to China for the London 
teas, but showed up badly on her passage from Shanghai to England. 
She was j6 days to the Strait of Sunda, and an additional 84 days to 
her market in England. In 1853, still under Captain Lendholm, she 
made her San Francisco passage in 114 days, surpassing by four days 
that of the fine new Queen of Clippers, which sailed from New York 
on her initial voyage on the same day. 

The John Bertram was among twelve of the clipper ships that were 
either lost or sold in 1855, but she was, fortunately, among the latter 
group, having been purchased by William F. Schmidt of Hamburg. 
On March 17, 1883, she was abandoned at sea, leaving behind her a 
series of able runs and fast passages to round out her career of thirty- 
two years at sea. 

K. r B- TALME% 

California Clipper 

J_he year 1851, against a filigree background of events, was studded 
with an array of fine ships and flashing passages. The first clipper to 
leave the ways that year was, like the Oriental before her, the lands- 
man's idea of an aristocrat of a ship, and the blue- water man's ideal of 
a sweet sea-sailer. She was the N. B. Palmer, and everything about her 
was of interest: her builder, the ship herself, her owners, her captain — 
even her name; and snap passages were expected of her from the 
moment of her launching. 

When Jacob Westervelt built the N. B. Palmer he put into her years 
of hard-won experience with ships, from the keel up, on the stocks, 
and far out at sea ; and not a cent was spared to make her not only as 
fine a craft as the mind of a naval architect could originate, but as 
pretty a piece of workmanship as the most fastidious owner could de- 
sire. Westervelt himself was born, in 1800, in Hackensack, New Jer- 
sey, and had spent his early life at sea. When he returned with an in- 
valuable knowledge of the ways of a ship, born of a term before the 
mast, he entered the yards of Christian Bergh — veteran New York 
packet-builder — as an apprentice, rose to a partnership, and in 1837 
retired, while still a young man, with a fortune. He traveled abroad, 
returned, built two more ships at Williamsburg, and then — restless 
and at odds with idleness — this shipbuilder, son of a shipbuilder, the 
doorway of whose very home was ornamented with the carved stone 
stern of a ship, started in business all over again, taking as his partner 

a builder named Mackay. From time to time there emerged, from the 



yards of Westervelt & Mackay, such well-known packet ships as the 
Ocean Queen, American Eagle, and Devonshire, but the pinnacle of 
their partnership was reached when they constructed the N. B. Palmer. 
In 1854 J acoD Westervelt was elected Mayor of New York City. 

The N. B. Palmer was a ship of nearly 1,490 tons register, and 
measured: lengdi, 202% feet, beam, 38 % feet, and depth, 21 feet 11 
inches. She was built of white oak, live-oak, locust, and cedar, with 
overlapping lodging knees and long-armed, long-bodied hanging knees, 
of strong white oak. Her treenails were wedged inside and outside — 
not driven — into her timbers, and she was square-bolted and fastened 
throughout. Her hull was painted black from the copper up, with a 
stripe of gold around the waist. Her lower masts were all made, and 
iron-hooped. She carried brass guns, and at one time had a carved 
wooden sailor holding a compass in place of the usual binnacle, but this 
was removed after it was found that the blank stare of the wooden tar 
disturbed the helmsman. A full-rigged model of this ship was sent to 
London in 185 1 where it was exhibited to admiring eyes at the Crystal 

A. A. Low & Brother, who owned the Palmer, named her after 
"Captain Nat," one-time commander of the fine China ships Houqua, 
Samuel Russell, and Oriental, whose career was even more varied and 
decked with honors than that of Jacob Westervelt. He was born, in 
1799, at Stonington, on Long Island Sound, the child of a prominent 
lawyer who numbered among his distinguished colonial forebears an 
uncle who fell at the battle of Groton Heights in 1771. 

At the age of fourteen young Palmer went to sea aboard a little 
coasting vessel, which plied up and down between Maine and New 
York. It was a good beginning, and at eighteen he was appointed 
second-mate of the brig Hersilia, Captain J. P. Sheffield, and, during 
one of the sealing expeditions to the Falklands in this ship, discovered 
the rich sealing rookeries of the fabled "isle of Auroras" in the South 
Shetlands — a part of the world then unknown to any but a few Span- 
ish vessels. When he returned home he was given command of the 
40-ton sloop Hero, and sailed in company with the Hersilia on another 

K. "B- Talmer 


K. < B- VALMEX 101 

sealing expedition in 1819. A rich cargo of furs resulted, and in 1821 
Palmer, in the Hero, and Captain William Fanning, in the Alabama 
Pac\et, in command of six other vessels, sailed in search of new sealing 
grounds. While the ships were separated, Palmer discovered that part 
of the map which now bears his name: Palmer Land — a slice of terri- 
tory which shimmers among the conical masses of opalescent, white, 
black, and emerald icebergs on the beautiful, but chill, coastline of 
the Antarctic. 

Then followed the command of the schooner Cadet and a number 
of voyages to the Spanish Main; the command, in 1826, of the brig 
Tampico; passages to Europe in the brig Francis; and command, in 
1829, of the brig Annawan, in which he explored new sealing grounds 
about Cape Horn that year in which the temporary government at 
Buenos Aires forbade United States seamen to frequent the whale 
and seal fisheries in the waters, and on the coasts, of the Falklands 
and adjacent islands. He was accompanied on this latter voyage by 
J. N. Reynolds, the author of several books of travel, who was with 
Commodore Downes, as secretary, three years later in the U. S. frigate 
Potomac, during the engagement in which the United States pun- 
ished the pirates of Quallah-Battoo in the interests of the American 
merchant marine. 

In 1833 Palmer was given command of the New Orleans packet 
Huntsville, owned by E. K. Collins & Co., who later founded the 
Collins line of steamships. During the following nine years he com- 
manded the Hibernia, and helped to design the Garric\ and the 
Siddons for Collins's Dramatic Line of New York-Liverpool packets. 
When he commanded the Garric\, he made the then record-run of 
twelve days to Cape Clear, and, in 1839, in the Siddons, beat the 
fast U. S. frigate United States by ten miles in a ten-hour race. In 
1842 he was appointed to the command of the fast China packet 
Paul Jones, a ship owned by John M. Forbes and Russell & Co., and 
on his way home from China the following year had William H. 
Low as a passenger aboard. It was a fortunate meeting for both 
men, since the passenger became interested in a little model of a ship 


which the Captain was making during his spare hours. The rest is 
history: the Houqua, owned by A. A. Low & Brother resulted, and 
the Samuel Russell and Oriental followed after. 

In his hours of relaxation at home Captain Palmer's days sparkled 
over as many facets of activity as they did at sea. He owned fifteen 
yachts, including the schooner Juliet, which he had designed him- 
self, and had another — Rutherford Stuyvesant's famous schooner 
Palmer — named for him. He belonged to the New York Yacht Club 
and the Currituck Club, and spent the years, after his retirement in 
1850, in days of fishing, duck-hunting, and cruising about on the 
waters of the New England coast in the beautiful Juliet. 

He was an old man in 1876 when he took his brother Alexander's 
eldest son, an invalid, to Santa Barbara for his health, and then on 
to China in the clipper ship Mary Whitridge. The nephew died on 
the return trip in the steamer City of Pe\in, and Captain Nat fol- 
lowed on June 21, 1877, shortly after he landed, alone, in San 

Captain Charles Porter Low — who later published the book Some 
Recollections, in which the ships Houqua, Jacob Bell, Samuel Russell, 
and N. B. Palmer figured — was the first commander of the N. B. 
Palmer. He was born in Salem in 1824 — another, younger brother 
of the shipowning Lows, spent his early life in Brooklyn — where his 
parents had moved when he was a child, and went to sea when 
he was little more than a boy. In 1842 he shipped on board the 
Horatio, Captain Howland, as a sailor before the mast and made one 
voyage to China and back. Not ships alone, but the sea itself, charmed 
him; and in spite of parental objections to his selection of a hard life, 
instead of one that family influence would help to round out in serene 
and affluent comfort ashore, he went to sea again and again — first 
as an ordinary seaman with Captain Griswold on board the Toronto, 
a Liverpool packet built in 1835 by Christian Bergh, and then, four 
weeks after he left the Toronto, "longing for the sea again," he shipped 
as one of four able seamen with Captain Wolfe in Donald McKay's 
little Rio coffee trader Courier. Years later he wrote of this latter ship: 

2\[. t B. VALMEX 103 

". . . after being on board the Toronto it seemed like child's play to 

handle her royal and topgallant sails The voyage was one of the 

pleasantest I ever made." 

When the Houqua was built, Charles Low sailed first as third, then 
as second, then as first mate with the brothers Nathaniel, Alexander, 
and Theodore Palmer, and at twenty-three was appointed to his first 
command. In 1850 he took the clipper ship Samuel Russell to Cali- 
fornia in the unprecedented time of 109 days, arriving at San Francisco 
on May 6 — 79 days before the Sea Witch romped into port with her 
97-day record. 

The following year on May 7 Captain Low took the N. B. Palmer 
out of New York on her first San Francisco passage. He crossed the 
Equator in 26 days, was 60 more to the Horn, and arrived at San 
Francisco on the 26th of August — 106 days out. In the latter part of 
the same year, in China, he made the excellent run of seventy hours 
from Woosung to Hongkong. 

In 1852 the N. B. Palmer sailed out of New York on the 22nd of 
May, four days after the Gazelle, Captain Dollard, sailed from the 
same port, and eight days after the Flying Cloud, Captain Creesy, 
sailed from Boston. Both the Gazelle and the N. B. Palmer made 
excellent passages during the early months of the trip. On the 26th 
of May the N. B. Palmer sailed 390 miles in twenty-four hours; and 
shortly after crossing the Line the Gazelle caught up with the Flying 
Cloud. In the latitude of the Rio de la Plata Captain Low in the N. B. 
Palmer, streaked by the Flying Cloud and, gentleman that he was, 
hove to for the latter ship to come abeam. At two o'clock he and 
Captain Creesy arranged for a race, but the Palmer josded her luck 
when she hauled two points to the westward for a side wind at the 
beginning of the match, and by daylight the following morning the 
Cloud had left her hull-down on the horizon in a pouring rain. 

Exacdy one week later — the night of July 9 — while the Palmer 
was sailing in darkness under reefed topsails, mutiny broke out aboard, 
when a ruffian by the name of Semons put a bullet through the leg 
of Mr. Haines, the mate, and threatened to shoot the Captain. After 


a struggle, during which another rascal known as Dublin Jack felled 
the second and third officers with a handspike, Semons was captured 
and put in irons. Now it happens that Captain Low was a kindly 
man and a gentleman, and when "the yacht" — as the Palmer was 
called in China — was in port, he and the beautiful Mrs. Low, who 
sailed with him, were noted for their graciousness and princely enter- 
tainments aboard ship; but for once Captain Low put his courtesy 
aside, and, tricing up Semons and Dublin Jack to the mizzen rigging, 
gave them each a taste of the kind of lashings that isn't found in a 
glass of grog. 

The Palmer was 35 days off the Horn, and on August 11, when 
she put into Valparaiso to land the two men in irons, seventeen more 
men deserted the ship. On August 20 she again sheeted home her 
sails, and got under weigh for San Francisco. The Flying Cloud made 
a triumphant passage to that port 24 days ahead of the Palmer — 113 
days out. When the latter arrived on September 30, her log recorded 
a 130-day passage, including the time of her detention in port. 

The following spring, on April 27, 1853, the N. B. Palmer sailed 
from China in company with the Samuel Russell, the barque Comet, 
and the ten-year-old Joshua Bates. Captain Nat's old ship, the Russell, 
beat his namesake into port by two days — arriving off Sandy Hook 
on July 26; the Comet arrived on the 29th; and the Bates came in 
four days later. The following September the N. B. Palmer left New 
York on the 27th and arrived at San Francisco on June 26, 1854 — 
121 days out; but coming home again in July she chalked up the 
all-time record run of 82 days from Honolulu. 

In 1858 the Palmer, fleet as a homing pigeon carrying a message 
of death, skimmed blue seas in the finest passage of her career. An- 
other, youthful, dying Captain was in command. On Sunday morning, 
January 17, 1859, the Palmer was in port, 82 days from Shanghai in 
the record run of 36 days from off the Cape. It was a passage for 
rejoicing . . . save that five days later Captain Higham, her 28-year-old 
commander, was dead. In 1872 the N. B. Palmer was sold abroad, and 
twenty years later was abandoned at sea. 

Clipper Ship 


Id 51 

fo/fc.£.AAAf ASh/t&& 


Taylor and Merrill 
Drawn from WEBB'S Plan 

Condemned and sold, 1854. 
Renamed CORA 
Registered 1861-2 as the 


Length on dtck 18? f«t 
B«am Moulded 38ft.2ins. 

Oepth of Hold 21ft. 
Tonnage CM. 1^4-Otons 

VMS ship, built with eery great deafl. 
rise, at the request ol hff owners, 
two retired ship captains, did not prarrf 
es tast as other clipper ships having 
much less rise ot Itoor and greater 
Cargo-Carrying capacity. Mr Webb 
stated that excessive dead-rise ot 
floor was not conducive to high 
speed, and that the Mot-floored 
mode I was superior. 


California Clipper 

JL he Witch of the Wave was another of the crack clippers of 1851. 
She was built in the tradition of the Griffiths school — extraordinarily 
lean and graceful, sharp on the bottom, and with great dead-rise — 
and was owned by Captain John Bertram and Alfred Peabody, of 
Salem. Shortly after she was launched in the spring of the year, the 
R. B. Forbes came to take her to Boston, from which place, after she 
was loaded in Glidden & Williams's Line for San Francisco, she set 
out, under Captain J. Hardy Millet, to break a few records, and to 
establish some that have never yet been broken. 

The Witch of the Wave, though the pride of Salem, was the prod- 
uct neither of that city nor of Boston, but of the picturesque yards 
of George Raynes, one of the principal builders of Portsmouth, New 
Hampshire. There, where the incense smell of fresh-sawed wood min- 
gled with the fragrance of flowers and fruits and with the clean green 
odor of the vegetable gardens of what had once been the famous 
estate of Colonel George Boyd, and was, under Raynes, one of the 
showplaces of Portsmouth, the keel of the Witch was laid, and the 
lines of the lovely vessel rose in graceful sweeps against a background 
of green lawns, blue skies, and deep blue water. 

Raynes, who had gone to Portsmouth from York, Maine, in 1835, 

was the builder of many fleet ships, including a number of opium 

clippers — the last of which, the sister schooners Minna and Brenda, 

were built in his yards in 1851 — and the slim clipper ship Sea Serpent, 

which he built in 1850. The latter ship (the pioneer clipper of Grin- 


Witch of the Wave 


nell, Minturn's California Line), which trimmed the Boston-built John 
Bertram (the pioneer clipper of Glidden & Williams's California Line) 
in a race to San Francisco in 1850, made several notable passages 
under the formal Captain Howland — one-time commander of the 
Horatio — a gendeman who usually wore kid gloves when he ap- 
peared on deck, and gave orders to no one but the officer of the watch. 
The Sea Serpent topped off her career with a 79-day passage from 
Hongkong to New York, in 1856. 

The New York Herald said, of the lines of the Sea Serpent, "They 
are as perfect as perfection itself" ; yet the Witch of the Wave was, if 
anything, a lovelier and more remarkable ship. Both had wedge- 
shaped bows with lines swelling sweetly to the midship section and 
tapering off cleanly towards the stern, but a comparison between the 
measurements of the two shows the Witch to have been the longer, 
leaner vessel. The Serpent was 1,402 tons register, length, 196 feet, 
breadth, 39 feet, and depth, 20 feet. Both ships had 40-inch dead-rise 
at half-floor. The Witch was 1,498 tons register and measured: length, 
220 feet, breadth, 40 feet, and depth, 21 feet. Her main lower mast 
of 90 feet was, according to the normal proportion of 2.0 to 2.5 times 
the beam of a ship, decidedly on the tall side; and her mainyard 
stretched an 81-foot horizontal sweep. The Witch's decks were clear 
and unobstructed, her between-decks had ample headroom, and her 
staterooms were fitted out in a manner more than luxurious for her 
day and time. The wainscot of the main cabin was of rosewood, birds- 
eye maple, satin, and zebra wood, with cornices and mouldings of 
white and gold. Her hull was black, and her figurehead, by John W. 
Mason, of Boston, was of a young woman, lightly clad in white and 
gold, whose feet barely touched the rounding crest of a wave. The 
stern decorations were of a child in a seashell drawn by dolphins. She 
flew the red-star, white-above-yellow house-flag of Glidden & Williams. 

The barest descriptions of any of these slender sea-creatures of the 
'50's often hold within themselves the power to exert a strong tug at 
the heart, when one visualizes the trade in which they were engaged, 
and what qualities they had for engaging in it. It is sometimes diffi- 


cult to understand how any such fabrics of cloth and polished wood, 
whose lines convey more of an impression of grace and fragility than 
does a spun-glass toy, could withstand the teeth and claws of a Cape 
Stiff gale, and mountainous seas that rolled down like tons of doom; 
yet Captain Millet took the Witch of the Wave — as delicate a piece 
of cabinet work as that turned out in any yard — and brought her in to 
San Francisco in 121 days, loaded with almost more cargo than she 
could bear — 1,900 tons of it — without the loss of a single spar. On 
the first part of the passage she was 25 days to the Line, and 63 days 
to the Horn. In the latter part of October she fell in with a flat calm, 
which lasted for days and lengthened her passage accordingly. 

From California the Witch sailed to China, and the following ac- 
count, which appeared under her portrait in the May 1 number of 
the Illustrated London News for 1852, takes up the story from there. 
It states that: 

"This large and beautiful clipper-built ship, commanded by Cap- 
tain Millet, recently arrived in the East India Docks, Blackwall, from 
Canton, having made one of the most extraordinary and rapid voyages 
on record; she also brought one of the most valuable cargoes of tea 
that perhaps ever entered the port of London, having on board no 
fewer than 19,000 chests of tea of the choicest quality. 

"This vessel is of 1,400 tons burthen, and was built at Salem, near 
New York, in the course of last year. She first proceeded to Cali- 
fornia, thence to Hong-Kong, and sailed from Whampoa, near Canton, 
on the 5th of January; made the passage to Java Head in seven days 
twelve hours; then had the wind W.S.W. to N.W. for several days, 
with a light trade wind, and made the Cape in twenty-nine days; 
then encountered strong easterly winds from the Western Isles, and 
took a pilot off Dungeness on the 4th of April, making the passage 
from China to the Downs in ninety days — a trip surpassing the cele- 
brated runs of the Oriental and Surprise clippers. 

"Had she not encountered the strong easterly winds up Channel, 
she would have made the voyage several days earlier; as it was, she 
was only four days beating up from the chops of the Channel, while 
some of our large vessels were nearly a fortnight doing the distance. 


"The Witch of the Wave left the river on Thursday, the 22nd ult., 
and while in the docks was an object of great interest, her bows and 
general appearance being similar to the America yacht, which carried 
off the plate at Cowes last year. 

"By the above it will be seen that she sailed round the world in 
ten months and a half, including loading and discharging at the 
above ports. The greatest distance she ran on the voyage was 338 
miles in twenty-four hours." 

The following June the Witch was again in Boston. Captain Ben- 
jamin Tay was now in command and, leaving Boston on the 22nd, 
he ran her to San Francisco in 119 days. Coming home in 1853 from 
Saugor, India, she made a brilliant passage that eclipsed all previous 
passages between similar points, and hung up the all-time record run 
of her career. She had sailed from India on the 13th of April, run 
from Sand Heads to the Cape of Good Hope in 37 days — a record — 
and arrived in Boston on July 3, in the unprecedented passage of 81 
days. That same year she left Boston on August 16, one day after the 
splendid ship Northern Light, and arrived at San Francisco on Decem- 
ber 11 — 117 days out — five days before the latter vessel hove into port. 

In 1856 George Raynes built another, smaller Witch of the Wave, 
and the following year the original Witch was sold to Amsterdam and 
renamed Electra. She disappeared from the shipping lists after 1871, 
and it is presumed that she was lost that year. 

Clipper Ship 

18 51 

built at 
Portsmouth, N.H. 

George Raynzs 

length 220 feet, breadth 40 feet.depth 21 feet. 

deadrise 40 inches, swell of sides 6 ins sheer 42 inches. 

tons 1498. 


Upper lines Vd of lower lines 


California Clipper 

J_ he city of Boston was blazing with excitement during the month 
in which the Flying Cloud was launched. On April 3, 1851, a negro 
slave named Thomas Simms, who had run away from a Georgia 
plantation, was arrested and placed under strong guard in the Boston 
Court House. The Abolition-minded North (Massachusetts in par- 
ticular) had little patience with the recendy passed Fugitive Slave 
Law, which gave slave-owners the unmolested right to remove slaves 
by force from territories to which they had fled, and penalized 
all those who had aided in the escape or later concealment; and 
it was feared that a rescue might be attempted. Only a month 
and a half before this, another runaway named Shadrach, who 
had found employment in the Cornhill Coffee House in Boston, was 
seized, jailed, and subsequently rescued by a colored mob, allegedly 
aided and abetted by a vigilance committee composed of influential 
Bostonians. Shadrach escaped to Canada, but Simms was taken under 
an armed guard of three hundred policemen and placed aboard a 
vessel bound for Havana, while the militia protected Faneuil Hall 
from any open demonstrations. 

Five days later the use of Faneuil Hall for convention purposes was 
denied the Abolitionists, and a little later in the month the Board of 
Aldermen, in an honest effort to be consistent, denied the Whigs and 
Democrats the use of the hall for a public reception for Daniel Webster. 
A storm of indignation brewed, and opposing expressions of opinion 

rained down thick and fast on the heads of the authorities. The North 



had not forgotten the recent speech of Webster's in which, while lay- 
ing great stress upon the fact that more slave states could be created 
out of Texas, he took occasion to sideswipe the Abolitionists by re- 
marking that their societies, for the past twenty years, had failed to 
produce any good or valuable results. Horace Mann, then presiding 
over the Abolitionists' Convention, called him a traitor to the North; 
but Webster's supporters contended that he was left with no other 
course but that of accepting and respecting the laws of the country 
even when they included such offensive and compromising measures 
as the Fugitive Slave Law. 

It might have been expected that the launching of another clipper 
would fail to attract attention at a time when the city was boiling 
with mingled resentments, but on the 15th the always nautical- 
minded Bostonians turned from their bickerings to unite in the relief 
of common applause. Strong rivalries were in the air. Those between 
individual and individual were progressing towards a mass uniting of 
political opinions — North against South, and of commercial compe- 
tition — America against England; but in a small way, before minor 
contests massed into major warfares, maritime Boston had, primarily, 
to setde a little shipbuilding and record-passage rivalry she was at 
the moment indulging in with near-by New York. 

From early in the morning until the launching time of the new 
clipper, crowds of men, women, and children trooped to the fascinat- 
ing world of the waterfront: a world of rattling carts and rushing 
people; of a forest of masts, and running and standing rigging that 
made cats' cradles in the trees; of bowsprits that poked like pointed 
muzzles at the dusty windows of gabled warehouses; of swinging 
booms and cursing stevedores ; of the mingled odors of tea and spices, 
of coffee, tobacco, leather, and fish; of bales, boxes, bundles, and bar- 
rels; of ships' stores, slops stores, and instrument-makers' shops; of 
boarding-houses and public houses; of riggers' lofts and shipyards; 
of sights and sounds and tarry, salty, fragrant smells that played an 
ever-renewing tune of temptation across the heartstrings of the fresh- 

Flying Qloud 


water man and woke a thousand echoes in the mind of the deep-sea 

On the morning of the 15th the ferry trundled crowds of people 
across to East Boston to watch the launching, at close range, in the 
holiday atmosphere of the McKay yards; while others stationed them- 
selves at Chelsea Bridge and the Navy Yards at Charlestown, or hud- 
dled in tight groups in litde boats and across the yards of near-by 
vessels. Even the roof-tops near and far were specked with dancing, 
shouting figures when the flag-decked Cloud finally kissed the waters 
of the harbor. 

It was a gala occasion, and one to which the commercial world 
had looked forward for months. While still on the stocks the Flying 
Cloud had been sold by Enoch Train & Co., for whom she was orig- 
inally built, to Grinnell, Minturn & Co., who were but one of many 
shipowning firms who had offered Train a handsome profit for the 
new vessel. Grinnell, Minturn paid Mr. Train ninety thousand dollars 
in cash after she reached them in New York, and every merchant 
and shipbuilder was a-tiptoe to see how well she would live up to 

The Cloud has since had her detractors, but the shipping circles 
of the '50's seemed to be of one mind about her qualities, and her 
name and fame were indelibly penciled upon the minds of the people 
of her day, who were, so far as group description can be applied, the 
keenest judges of a ship that ever lived. The construction of the Flying 
Cloud is supposed to have inspired Longfellow's The Building of the 
Ship; George Francis Train, in his Biography, spoke of her as "that 
famous ship destined to make a new era in shipbuilding all over the 
world"; Duncan McLean, writing in the Boston Atlas, said: "If 
great length, sharpness of ends, with proportionate breadth and depth, 
conduce to speed, the Flying Cloud must be uncommonly swift, for 
in all these she is great" ; and later, after she had fulfilled her promise 
by giving proof, in the only way in which a ship ever can give proof, 
of speed and greatness, the New York Commercial said: "Such a 
passage as this is more than a local triumph, and inures to the repu- 


tation not alone of the builder of the ship and her enterprising owners, 
but of the United States. It is truly a national triumph, and points 
clearly and unmistakably to the preeminence upon the ocean which 
awaits the United States of America. The log of the Flying Cloud is 
the most wonderful record that pen ever indited, for rapid as was 
the passage, it was performed under circumstances by no means the 
most favorable." 

The Flying Cloud has been immortalized in picture, poem, song, 
and story, but the recital of her attainments, like a familiar strain of 
music, is always worthy of repetition no matter who makes the ar- 
rangement. When she was properly outfitted after her launch, she 
was towed to New York City to take aboard cargo for San Francisco, 
and Captain Josiah Perkins Creesy was placed in command. Creesy, 
who was a typical clipper captain, had risen to that position in life 
by strength of will and sheer hard labor. He was born at Marblehead 
in 1 8 14, and first went to sea, as a boy, in a thirteen-foot dory, which 
he sailed alone as far as Salem in order to indulge in little, thrilling 
glimpses of the old glamour-shrouded Indiamen and of the men who 
navigated them. At twenty-three he was himself a captain, and later 
had command of the 793-ton packet Oneida, which he sailed for 
many years in the China trade. The Oneida was far from being a 
clipper, but under Creesy she is said to have made five voyages in 
five years from New York to Anjier in ninety days or less: a galaxy 
of passages that was enough to make shipowners respect and admire 
him, and which eventually led to the command of the crack Flying 
Cloud. Mrs. Creesy, who sailed with Captain Creesy on all his voy- 
ages was something of a navigator herself and sailor enough to look 
forward to the long passage round the Horn and out to China. 

When the Cloud arrived in New York, the citizens were treated to 
the sight of the largest merchantman afloat. She was a powerfully 
built ship of nearly 1,783 tons, 208 feet long on the keel, 225 feet on 
deck, and 235 feet from taffrail to knightheads. Her extreme breadth 
of beam was 41 feet, and her depth of hold 21 feet 6 inches. She had 
20 inches dead-rise at half-floor — just half that of the Staghound — 


and she carried a smaller spread of canvas. Her mainyard was 82 feet 
and her mainmast 88 feet in length — far from extreme measurements 
for a ship of her beam. She had a white and gold angel for a figurehead, 
and flew the red, white, and blue swallowtail flag of Grinnell, Minturn 

On June 3 the Cloud passed Sandy Hook with a wild crew aboard. 
The clipper ships by this time had difficulty securing sufficient able 
seamen — the goldfields and shore occupations had enticed away most 
of the best of them — and a new vessel's complement was frequendy 
made up of the scourings of the waterfront. Some of the men were 
frankly working what they hoped was to be an easy passage westward, 
and others were not seamen at all. In this respect a clipper captain 
of the '50's was bedeviled with all the tortures of a Columbus. 

For the first three days moderate breezes from the west and north- 
west slipped the Cloud onward through a smoothly parting sea, but 
on the 6th of June the wind freshened until it blew a strong gale, and 
the ship, under a heavy press of sail, raced furiously through the water. 
In his log the Captain wrote: "Good breezes, fine weather," and we 
can see him chuckling in anticipation of a good blow with canvas 
set for a "whole sail" breeze. The combination, however, did not work, 
and on the same day he gravely recorded: "Lost Main and Mizen 
Topgallant Mast & Main Topsail yard." 

The following day topgallant yards and masts were sent up, and 
on the 8th, the wind having hauled around to south-southwest, fol- 
lowed by gentle breezes from the southeast, the main topsail yard was 
sent up and all possible sail was set. For six days nothing material hap- 
pened, but on the 14th it was discovered that the mainmast was badly 
sprung below the hounds. The weather, fortunately, was fine; repairs 
were effected and, the mast strengthened, the Cloud sped on. 

She crossed the Line, into the world of the albatross, on the 24th 
of June, and from then on we follow her through majestic mornings 
and blue-arched days; through sunsets that mirrored cities and fields 
and forests in inverted lakes of fire; and through black velvet nights, 
when the world seemed enormous and only the Southern stars were 


crowded and low. The men went about their duties with military pre- 
cision: the carpenter was at his saw, the boatswain at his ropes, sails 
were made and yarns were knotted. Squalls came and went, followed 
by pleasant days. Lightning tore across the sky and rain fell. 

On the ioth of July the Cloud sailed under double-reefed topsails 
straight into a gale. The sun, moon, and stars had disappeared, making 
observations impossible, and on the nth the fore staysail and main 
topsail went with a bang. Around one o'clock pandemonium broke 
loose in that little world on the high seas. Off to the leeward a little 
brig had her fore and main topmasts snapped away, and aboard the 
Cloud the sight was paralleled by the discovery that her own main 
masthead was sprung. Orders cracked like whips, sailors swarmed into 
the rigging high above tossing seas, down came royal and topgallant 
yards, and off came the booms from the lower and topsail yards to 
relieve the mast. There were no observations that day, no cooked food, 
and — what was worse — no coffee. 

The following day the larboard hawse stopper loosened and the 
forecastle filled with water. The carpenter then made a curious dis- 
covery: two auger holes had been bored in the deck under the after 
berth in the forecastle, and someone remembered that the owner of the 
berth had been seen coming out of the forecastle with an auger in his 
hand. The Captain tersely recorded that day that he "Put him in 
Irons." Another man, who was seen working at the holes with a mar- 
linespike, was also put in irons, but before repairs were made water 
had seeped into the between-decks and among the cargo. The follow- 
ing day, in fresh breezes, the Cloud's main topsail tie and the truss band 
around her mast were carried away. 

On July 15th land was seen twenty-five miles away, and on the 
19th — 25 days after she had crossed the Equator — the Cloud crossed 
latitude 50 South in the Atlantic. At three-thirty on the afternoon 
of the 20th, Captain Creesy ordered studdingsails on the larboard 
booms, but at four a.m., in a thick fall of snow, he was obliged to reef 
the topsails and furl the courses. 

Foaming seas, with sleet, rain, and snow falling alternately, con- 


tinued for two days; and on the 24th, with the Straits of Le Maire 
fifteen hours behind her, the Flying Cloud passed the snow-wrapped 
Horn five miles away. Two days later she was in latitude 50 ° South 
Pacific, having made the passage from the same latitude in the Adantic 
in the magnificent time of seven days. From then on the Cloud fairly 
leaped ahead; and on July 31, in lower and topgallant studdingsails, 
royals, and fore topmast studdingsails, with heavy seas breaking on 
deck, her passage occasioned the remarkable log-entry: "Distance run 
this day by observation 374 miles, an average of 15% 2 knots per hour, 
during the Squalls 18 knots of line was not sufficient to measure her 
rate of speed." This was the fastest day's run made by sail or steam 
up to that time and was 42 miles better than the best time of the 
Atlantic mail steamships. 

From August 25 until the 30th the Cloud was off California in lati- 
tude 36 03' to 36 29' and longitude 141 ° 06' to 127 17'. On the 
29th she lost her fore topgallant mast, and at 2 a.m. on the 31st she 
was hove-to waiting for daylight. At 6 a.m. she made the South Faral- 
lones, at 7 took a pilot, and at 11:30 came to anchor off the North 
Beach in San Francisco Harbor. Her time from New York was 89 
days and 21 hours. She had broken all records, and Captain Creesy was 
the hero of the hour on the gold coast. 

Most of the crew went off to the mines, and the Cloud, after dis- 
charging, was undermanned when she sailed across to China. During 
this passage she is credited with having made another 374-mile run 
in twenty-four hours, and her homeward passage from Canton was 
made in the fair time of 94 days. The maritime world of New York 
was wild with excitement when the Cloud reached home on April 10, 
and Grinnell, Minturn & Co. had her log printed on white silk in gold. 

It was during the Flying Cloud's second passage to San Francisco 
that she fell in with the N. B. Palmer and raced that vessel. The 
Cloud's 113-day time that year was not remarkable — the 94 days of 
the Webb clipper Sword fish being the best trip made in 1852 — but 
after she left San Francisco she made the short record-run of 8 days 


$ l / 2 hours to Honolulu. She sailed from Canton on December i and 
reached New York 96 days later. 

In 1853 the Cloud was home scarcely more than a month when 
she was again fitted out for San Francisco, and again matched for a 
race with a vessel built by the builders of the N. B. Palmer. This ship 
was the clipper Hornet, which cast off her pilot at Sandy Hook at 
two in the afternoon on the 28 th of April, practically in company 
with the Flying Cloud. The following day the two ships were racing 
side by side, but on the 15th of May the Cloud was two days 
ahead crossing the Line. Disastrous weather was encountered off the 
Horn and the McKay clipper was struck by a mountainous head sea 
that ripped her fore topmast staysail to pieces. The first officer, Mr. 
Gibb, and the third officer and four seamen went forward to clear 
the damages, but the Cloud was like a bucking steed tearing through 
the water at a ten-knot clip. The men had no sooner arrived on the 
forecastle than she plunged her nose deep into the sea, and when she 
came up again Mr. Gibb and one seaman were gone. 

The loss of the two men did much to add gloom to the remainder 
of the 1853 passage, but the Flying Cloud maintained her reputation 
to the very end by sailing into San Francisco practically in company 
with the Hornet. In actual racing time the Hornet had won by forty 
minutes, from the day in spring when the two ships met outside of 
Sandy Hook; but the Flying Cloud was winner by over an hour in 
sailing time, since the Hornet had made her actual departure from 
New York two hours ahead of the Cloud on the 28th of April. The 
two clippers arrived at San Francisco on August 12 — 105 days from 
New York. The Flying Cloud omitted her China trip that year and, 
encountering damaging seas once more, was forced to sail the rest of 
her passage to New York with a jury, or temporary, rudder. 

In 1854 the gods of clipper fortune were at the Cloud's helm again, 
and Mercury himself was in command. Seventeen days after she dis- 
charged her pilot she streaked across the Equator; when she reached 
the Horn she spoke the clipper Archer — a fast ship that had sailed 
from New York nine days ahead of the Cloud — and asked Captain 


Thomas aboard to dine. The invitation was not accepted, however, 
and the Cloud tore on to reach San Francisco — 89 days 8 hours from 
New York ! Having thus broken her own record she sailed on to make 
another. On June 7, 1854, she arrived at Hongkong in the unprece- 
dented sailing time of 126 days from New York. Six years later the 
clipper Andrew Jackson rivaled the Cloud's second record California 
passage, but the twin record to California was never eclipsed. 

On the 7th of August adverse currents and stormy weather carried 
the Flying Cloud on a coral reef in the China sea, her shoe was ripped 
from the keel, and the keel itself was cut through to the bottom plank- 
ing, allowing water to enter. Captain Creesy saved his vessel without 
outside help and brought her home with her valuable cargo undam- 
aged. The underwriters in New York, estimating that more than thirty 
thousand dollars was secured to them by the Captain's avoidance of 
a costly port of repairs, entertained him royally at the Astor House 
in New York City when he returned, and presented him with a 
service of silver. 

In 1855 Captain Creesy made one more passage to San Francisco in 
the Cloud. She took 108 days, and on her return the Creesys retired 
from the sea. They stayed at their home in Salem, until six years later 
when Captain Creesy became a Commander in the U. S. Navy and 
was assigned to the clipper Ino. Later, as master of the Archer, he made 
two voyages to China. In his fifty-seventh year, still a comparatively 
young man for one whose life had been so crowded, he died at Salem. 

In 1856, under Captain Reynard, the Flying Cloud was again up for 
'Frisco. She sailed from New York on the 13th of March, put into Rio 
partly dismasted in June, and on September 14 completed the passage 
— 185 days out. In 1857 and 1858 she was idle, and then in 1859 was 
repaired and put in commission again. Her new spars were consider- 
ably smaller than her old ones, but the good hull was still there, and 
in i860 Captain Winsor took her out to China for tea. She loaded 
at Foochow that year — one of the ports which, by that time, had super- 
seded Canton and Shanghai in popularity — and sailed out on the 6th 


of August in the unfavorable summer monsoon weather. On Decem- 
ber 7 she arrived in London after a 123-day passage. 

It was in the following year, at the outbreak of the Civil War, that 
Captain Creesy entered the Navy, and a year later that his old racer, 
for the last time, unshipped her American flag. She was sold in 1862 
to James Baines of Liverpool and for a time was a Black Bailer to 
Brisbane. In the '70's she was sold to Smith Edwards of South Shields 
and was employed until 1874 in the lumber trade. In June of that year 
she ran ashore near St. Johns, New Brunswick, and while undergoing 
repairs caught fire and was practically gutted. That was the end of the 
Flying Cloud. She finished her days somewhere on a Canadian scrap- 
heap: the sweet emblem of the American merchant marine at its 


Buiur^xr East Boston 


&OHAL& /7 c /Cav 

Or 6wn from 

Length: on OccK 2l7>4ft 

Rtgitt.rtd 229ft. 

_, on Load Water-linc209)ift 

Beam (~i° u| 4e<),> 40 ft. 

Cxtrcme _0*Sft. 

Depth (nvwloedj 2 3%ft. 

Register 1,732 Tana 


at 20ft 2,373 GrossTons 
atl7ri.ft,l,Q5l GroesTons 

Hull and S/«ml.s 


Boov Pl_/«».NI 


Sheer Ri_>msi 

l. » A I — r— I — ts — ii M > t 
Half Breaotm Plaim 

Lowe-. Mull Plans V3 2>C/~ i_t or u«cp Hull Plan* 


California Clipper 

JL he Flying Cloud was still taking aboard cargo when the Challenge, 
loudly cheered by a crowd that was conspicuously large for even 
that day of wide sailing-ship interest, was launched on May 24, 1851, 
from William H. Webb's yards on the East River between Fifth and 
Seventh Streets, New York City. The moment the Challenge touched 
the waters she was the largest and most expensive merchantman afloat, 
and, after she received her spars and sails, she was the most extreme 
in rig — perhaps of any time. 

A glance at the design and measurements of the Challenge serves 
as a check on shipbuilding developments in America up to the spring 
of 1 85 1 — six years after' the opening of new treaty ports in China had 
set the speed ball rolling, and practically two years after the revoca- 
tion of the Navigation Acts in Britain and the discovery of gold in 
California had worked speed into a mania that has remained a matter 
for some astonishment these eighty-seven years since. 

John Grirhths's distinction and the added glory that attached itself 
to the names of Pook and McKay can be traced in trade developments, 
in the plenitude of perishable or much-needed cargoes where cargoes 
had once been scarce or not demanded, and the ability of these men to 
leap into the breach and, drawing from their own reserves of knowl- 
edge, to design, with little experimentation, the type of ship that, given 
a Yankee "driver" for a captain, was supremely right for the time, the 
trade routes, and the occasion. Shipbuilding in those days, before steam 
and the use of machinery finally caused men of science to concentrate 




on the natural laws which made for uniform success, and before ship- 
building passed into the hands of the draughtsman and boilermaker, 
was still much of a "mystery" — in its medieval sense of a craft — based 
upon observation or tradition, a knowledge of timber, and an eye for 
form; and the builder of 1850, as well as for some time after, was 
faced with the task of carrying on from established principles, of 
improving designs which the world agreed were already perfect, and 
of having a heartbreaking "go" at records, sometimes made by ships 
which he himself had designed and built, which stubbornly refused 
to be broken. This accounted somewhat for unevenness in results, 
but it was also responsible for the favors that were lavished upon suc- 
cessful builders and captains, and for the wide interest shown in the 
performance of individual ships. 

The Challenge endeavored to make her mark on the sea by being 
extreme in every way: if added length and tonnage were factors in 
increasing a day's run and decreasing a passage, she had them ; if other 
spars were long, hers were longer; if other ships boasted an enormous 
spread of canvas, she boasted more; if sharpness was the secret, she 
had the sharpest entrance lines of any clipper afloat; and her pro- 
nounced dead-rise of 42 inches, her sharp V-bottom, was in the best 
tradition of the school of thought that had sent out ships like the Sea 
Witch and the Samuel Russell to make names for themselves in the 
China trade. 

William H. Webb, builder of the Challenge, was the son of Isaac 
Webb who, although he was only forty-six when he died in 1840, 
was known as the "father of shipbuilders" because of the subsequent 
success of the many master builders (of whom Donald McKay was 
one) who were graduated from his yards in New York City. William, 
who was twenty-four years old at the time of his father's death, carried 
on the firm, then known as Webb & Allen, and in the ten years from 
1840 to 1850 built the packet ships Montezuma, Yorkshire, Havre, 
Fidelia, Columbia, Sir Robert Peel, Splendid, Bavaria, Isaac Wright, 
Ivanhoe, Yor\town, London, Guy Mannering, Albert Gallatin, Isaac 
Webb, and Vanguard. Of these, the Yorkshire was the holder of a 


collection of record packet-passages, the Guy Mannering was the sec- 
ond largest merchantman afloat in her day, and the Albert Gallatin, 
a ship of 1,435 tons Dunt m J 849, was the largest. In 1841 Webb 
built the China packet Helena, in 1844 the Montau\ and the Panama, 
and in 1850 the clipper Celestial. Following the Challenge, the clip- 
pers Comet, Gazelle, Invincible, and Swordfish were launched from 
his yards during 1851. 

The Challenge, whose lovely pattern was drawn from the well of 
Webb's fine knowledge of performance and design, should have been, 
aside from her appearance, a ship of remarkable attainments. The 
fact that she was as infamous as she was famous is regrettable. She was 
extreme in every way; even those who touch her memory cannot seem 
to take the middle course. 

Save for her cream-white deck and the broken tints that sun, shadow, 
and changing sky flashed across the white screen of her sails, the 
Challenge was a study in jet from her maintruck down. She registered 
2,006 tons, was 230 feet 6 inches in length, 43 feet 6 inches in breadth, 
and had a depth of 26 feet. Her main lower mast was 97 feet high, 
the entire structure of the mainmast rearing upward 210 feet 6 inches 
from the heel to the sky; and her mainyard, when main course and 
studdingsails were set, measured 160 feet from boom-end to boom- 
end. Her complete suit of sails, which included skysails, studdingsails, 
and ringtails, required 12,780 yards of the cotton canvas which the 
Colt Manufacturing Company wove specially for her. The mainsail 
alone measured 80 feet on the head, 100 feet on the foot, and 49 feet 
6 inches on the leach. She was the first three-decked clipper built in 

In keeping with the high note of quality which distinguished the 
Challenge, her owners — N. L. & G. G. Griswold — gave their beautiful 
ship into the charge of Robert Waterman, whose work in the old 
Natchez and the Sea Witch easily earned him the finest command of 
that later day. 

Waterman was born in New York City on the 8th of March, 1808, 
and first went to sea as a boy of twelve on a vessel bound for China. 


From ordinary seaman and able seaman he worked his way to third, 
then second, officer aboard several vessels and at twenty-one became 
first mate of the Black Ball wind-packet Britannia, then commanded 
by Captain Charles H. Marshall. Marshall, who was part owner of 
several ships, including the Europe and the Illinois (the latter a packet 
in which Waterman also had a share), in 1836 succeeded to the owner- 
ship of the Black Ball Line. While mate of the Britannia, Waterman 
seems to have attracted attention for efficiency and the ability to main- 
tain order and discipline among passengers and crew, but he is best 
remembered, while aboard that ship, for his rescue of a sailor who fell 
overboard from aloft during a heavy gale. He endangered his own 
life to do that, a fact which contrasts strangely with the later charges 
that were made against him after the memorable maiden voyage of 
the Challenge. 

At twenty-five Waterman received command of the newly launched 
Black Bailer South America and slammed her back and forth across 
the Atlantic until 1837, the year in which he left the Black Ball service 
to take command of the Natchez, a full-pooped, flat-floored New Or- 
leans packet built in 1831 by Isaac Webb for the New York to New 
Orleans Line. Howland & Aspinwall owned the Natchez when 
Waterman took her to run a cargo from Boston to Valparaiso, and 
eventually to demonstrate the efficacy of the theory that favored the 
flat-floored type of design for all-around fast work in heavy weather, 
in preference to the advantages of close-hauled sailing in light winds 
afforded by a ship with pronounced dead-rise. In 1843, three years 
before the Sea Witch was launched, Waterman brought the Natchez 
home from Canton in 92 days, and in 1845 the old hooker opened the 
eyes of the shipping world when she came into New York from Macao 
in the unprecedented time of 78 days. It was a magnificent passage, 
magnificently engineered by her commander. The Natchez then passed 
to Captain Land, made several California voyages, and eventually 
tramped away the remaining years of her life as a whaler. Waterman 
proceeded to the Sea Witch, then to the steamship Northerner, and 
finally, although he had previously expressed his intention to retire 


from the sea, to the Challenge. The shipping world sat back and ex- 
pected miracles. 

It was the 13th of July when the Challenge, her white sails making 
a many-petaled pattern against the sky, sailed away from New York 
City. She had had some difficulty making up her crew, and this has 
been attributed by some writers to Waterman's sudden reputation as 
a sort of sea-going fiend. Even if this assertion were true, it would not 
account for the difficulty experienced by all ships of the period in secur- 
ing able seamen, nor can such evidence be accepted as a blanket con- 
demnation of any one skipper. 

In the ten years from 1840 to 1850 the registered tonnage of sailing 
ships, exclusive of coasting, whaling, and fishing vessels, had increased 
from 899,764 tons to 1,585,711 tons, and the tonnage of ocean-going 
steamers had leaped from nothing to 44,942 tons. Such increases were 
naturally sapping the ranks of able seamen, and, as has been previously 
pointed out, the goldfields were taking their share. In addition, the 
death-rate among seamen was not low. Nelson once said that "the 
average life of a seaman is, from hard service, finished at forty-five," 
yet in 1850 reports from the Seamen's Retreat at Staten Island, alone, 
showed that, out of sixty deaths in six months' time, forty-two were 
between the ages of sixteen and thirty-two, and the average age was 
a fraction over twenty-eight years. In 1 851, in eight months' time, 103 
deadis, of which six were between the ages of ten and twenty and only 
two were over sixty, were reported. If it were possible to tabulate the 
yearly deaths in home ports, in foreign ports, and at sea, the total 
would, obviously, be enormous. 

It is these facts, rather than the bad reputation that endless driving 
and hard masters had given the clippers, that were responsible for 
the dearth of able seamen. Nor could seamen be trained overnight to 
fill the ranks that were being diminished by death, disease, and the 
lure of gold — and trained seamen were certainly necessary for the 
handling of a ship under sail, if the safety of ship, cargo, passengers, 
and fellow-men merited first consideration. In fact, throughout the 
nineteenth century, it was held to be desirable, if not imperative, that 


the education of a seaman be begun at a tender age, and that practical 
knowledge be supplemented by reading and constant discussion of the 
many crises to be met with at sea. 

Nor was cruelty a novelty of the '50's, or confined to clipper cap- 
tains, or even to ships. In 1850, the New York Evening Post, in agitat- 
ing for the abolition of flogging in the American Navy, published the 

"We shall doubtless be told, as usual, that the officers of the navy 
are adverse to the abolition of corporeal punishments. These men, it 
will be said, should understand the matter; they have made the ad- 
ministration of military discipline the business of their lives, and they 
have found they cannot dispense with the cat-o'-nine-tails. The opinions 
of professional men, however, are of little value in matters of this kind. 
They become attached to practices which are general in their profes- 
sion, and naturally enough suppose them necessary, because their ex- 
perience is confined to them alone 

"We have before us a history of the gradual diminution of the prac- 
tice of flogging in the English army. — One restriction after another 
was placed, by act of Parliament, on this brutal mode of punishment; 
and all this was done in opposition to the opinions of military men, 
who had their whole life long been concerned in the administration 
of military discipline. The good sense of the community prevailed 
over the prejudices of profession. 

"Up to the year 1807, no limit was set to the number of lashes which 
a commander in the English army had the power to order. In that 
year, a private of the 54th regiment was sentenced to receive fifteen 
hundred, an enormity of punishment which was brought to the notice 
of George III, who was pleased to express his opinion 'that no sen- 
tence of corporeal punishment should exceed one thousand lashes.' 
The heroes of England continued, however, to be flogged most un- 
mercifully, during the five years which followed, and in 18 12, it was 
stated that the mean number of lashes inflicted monthly, in a regiment 
then serving in India, was seventeen thousand. Three-fourths of the 
soldiers in every regiment were flogged during the war with France, 
according to the estimate of a military officer. At length, in 18 12, 
the subject was brought before Parliament, and the number of lashes 
reduced from one thousand to three hundred. This was, however, in 


opposition to the opinions of military men. They held that discipline 
could not be maintained without the use of the lash. 'For many years 
of my life/ says Lord William Bentinck, 'in conjunction with ninety- 
nine parts of the officers of the British army, I entertained the same 
sentiments. It is only from long reflection; from the effects of discus- 
sion; from the observation that since that time, though corporeal 
punishments have diminished a hundred, perhaps a thousand fold, dis- 
cipline has been improved, and the soldier treated like a rational being, 
and not like a mere brute, that my own prejudice and that of others 
have given way.' In 1842, Lord Stanley said in Parliament, that if the 
matter had been left to military men, the practice of flogging would 
not have been mitigated. It was public opinion, it was the judicious 
humanity of the country overpowering the opinion of the officers of 
the army, which effected the reform." 

Before 1850 was out, Congress did put an end to flogging in the 
American Navy, and agitation was immediately begun to abolish the 
grog ration, "the grand cause of the flogging." Throughout the pub- 
licity which attended the matter, the merchant ships came off well, 
and it was said that "two facts have greatly contributed to render 
punishment of any kind unnecessary in merchant ships. One is that 
their crews are not generally furnished with ardent spirits. The other is 
the improved character of the Commanders." 

In addition to the fact that trained seamen were at a premium during 
those days of hurried shipbuilding, it seems that men of good character, 
who wanted to go to sea, were equally scarce, and it has been said 
truly that the general type of men who shipped aboard the clippers 
drove better men into other trades. At no time does it seem that the 
reputation of commanders had much to do with the type of men who 
went aboard ship. A correspondent, who signs himself "Viator," in 
the March, 1851, number of The Sailor's Magazine, throws light upon 
the mode of shipping seamen, as it was then practiced, and explains 
why crews, as a whole, were bad: He says: 

"Formerly when a voyage was determined upon, and the time had 
arrived for shipping a crew, the officer in charge of the vessel 'flew 
a pennant at the main! which was understood by Sailors to mean, a 


crew is wanted. As applicants presented themselves, and were satis- 
factory to the officer, they were sent with his approbation to the 
Merchant's counting house, where the shipping articles were signed, 
and security if deemed necessary, taken for the advance wages paid. 
From my own observation, the character and standing of the Sailor 
were taken into consideration in the transaction; and especially with 
green hands, or ordinary Seamen. The profession at that period was 
considered more respectable and profitable than at present. Young 
men of wealthy families, and well educated, were frequently to be met 
with before the mast; they made the best of officers, consequendy good 
crews were common. 

"About the year 1805, there was an emeute in Harvard College, and 
from that institution there were twenty young men, who instead of 
returning to their studies, entered as ordinary Seamen on board the 
ship America, I think, Capt. David Woodward, for a trading voyage 
upon the western coast of South America, protected by her own guns, 
despite the vigilance of the Spanish Guarde Costas. 

"Some dozen years later, in reviewing the career of these young men 
with one of their number, it was found that nineteen of them had 
become respectable ship-masters; of the other no account could be had. 
"The custom that has grown up of late years, of procuring ships' 
companies for the merchant service through shipping offices and their 
agents, has had an exceedingly bad influence upon the character of 
Sailors, and upon their efficiency. Within the memory of many ship- 
masters and owners, the only agency of the kind in the United States, 
was established in New York, by a Captain Fisher, who was also a 
notary public. Thence the system has extended into every part of the 
Union, where there is a port of any importance — owners and masters, 
supposing that they were relieved from a great deal of trouble, by just 
giving an order for so many men, to be furnished on a given day. At 
first, the men were sent to the officer in charge of the vessel, for his 
examination, previous to the shipment, and for a time the system 
seemed to work well; but in a short time, combinations were formed 
between shipping agents, boarding houses, landlords and shopkeepers, 
and they held poor Jack in their keeping, and disposed of him to the 
best advantages for themselves. Crews were furnished of which neither 
the officers nor owners had any knowledge before they came on board, 
and just as the vessel was leaving; consequently they were obliged to 
take them whether good or bad, drunk or sober. The result has been 


that the efficiency of crews has been much reduced, at least one fourth 
since the introduction of the present furnishing system." 

The Reverend C. M. Nickels of New Orleans, writing to the same 
publication, is also enlightening. He says: 

"As soon as a ship reaches the levee, even before she is made fast, 
the sailors are surrounded by a gang of miscreants called sailor board- 
ing house runners, who receive a stipulated price for every sailor they 
bring to the house. As nearly as I can ascertain, there are 115 houses 
occupied for this purpose in the lower part of the city, and with one 
exception they are all cabarets or grog-shops. In these houses the poor 
sailor is stupefied, it is generally believed with drugged liquors, robbed 
of his hard-earned wages, and while intoxicated shipped for another 
voyage, and indebted to the captain for a month's advance wages, 
which has been pocketed by his landlord. Recently one of these land- 
lords was charged in the First District Court, with a breach of trust, 
in refusing to pay over money received for a sailor's advance, whom 
he had shipped. The landlord said he paid it over to the sailor while 
drunk ( ! ! ) and that he lost it. The prisoner of course was acquitted. . . . 

"We frequently hear of insubordination and reluctance to do duty 
among seamen on shipboard, and various other troubles between them 
and their officers. What is the cause of these things? Whatever other 
reasons may be assigned, the practice of paying them advance wages 
has much and I believe principally to do with it. In nineteen cases out 
of twenty the sailor never sees it: it is pocketed by his landlord — he 
is sent on board the ship intoxicated, and when he wakes up he has 
but little knowledge of how he came there and less of what has been 
done with his money. But he well knows 'the dead horse must be 
worked out,' that during the voyage he must climb the masts, reef 
the sails, steer the ship, and when he arrives in port will have nothing 
to receive — probably be in debt to the ship, and without even a change 
of clothing. He of course takes no interest in his duties — moving 
mechanically about the deck — feeling dispirited, illnatured, and in 
many cases is quite willing to make difficulty with the officers, that he 
may have something to receive when he reaches port. The money 
advanced to his landlord, and from which he has derived no benefit 
is sufficient to account for all this 

"When sailors are scarce their landlords, or their runners, pick up 


anyone whom they find intoxicated in the streets, or whom they can 
decoy into their houses and make so with drugged liquor — put on 
them a red flannel shirt, an old pair of sailor's trousers, and for their 

advance ship them as sailors In one case the captain of a ship who 

had unfortunately taken too much liquor, was shipped as a common 
sailor and went down the river in that capacity, leaving his own ship 
on the levee." 

The whole system was a sorry mess both for officers who were 
expected to make good seamen of most of the battered wrecks that 
came their way, and for the poor devils who were rendered deaf, dumb, 
blind, and incapable under the spell of waterfront flattery. Heaven 
knows the good people ashore meant well when they indulged in the 
careless belief that, after months and even years at sea, the wandering 
sailor should find happiness in singing a hymn and reading the Bible ; 
but the land shark, being a proper business man, knew that the ability 
to call Jack by his first name, a few well-chosen words of sympathy 
for his hard lot at sea, a handful of cigars stuffed into his pocket, a 
bottle passed around, and a message of welcome from some old girl, 
was the type of homecoming that warmed the cockles of the wan- 
derer's heart and eventually led to an opportunity to explore his pocket. 
Even the best sailor found it hard to resist being debauched, beaten, 
robbed, and kicked back to sea for more money, and was always learn- 
ing anew that another ship lay waiting at the end of every road ashore, 
together with another headache, and another grudge against his for- 
sworn enemy, the Captain. 

* # # 

When the Challenge was ready to sail out of New York she had 
had to gather a crew of sixty-four men, after the Flying Cloud, the 
Eagle, and the Telegraph had practically exhausted the market. Even 
Captain Waterman was somewhat appalled when he saw his charges, 
but there was no turning back, and the trip around the Horn was 
eventually made under very trying conditions. What actually happened 
between the men and the officers in the 109 days it took the Challenge 
to reach California is still something of a mystery, aside from the fact 


that mutiny broke out off Rio de Janeiro and drastic methods were 
used to enforce order and obedience. At any rate, a few days after 
the ship reached port the newspapers of San Francisco erupted into a 
series of accusations against Waterman, and it was said that five of 
the crew had died from the effects of kickings and beatings while at 
sea, and four had been deliberately shaken from the rigging. It was 
also said that five more were too mangled and maimed to leave the 
forecastle after the vessel had anchored. These newspaper stories, 
whether they came from reliable sources or by way of the touched-up 
versions of land sharks who saw suits for damages in the offing, were 
enough to arouse the ire of a San Francisco mob, who demanded that 
the Challenge's handsome, arrogant Captain be turned over to the 
leaders for hanging or burning. Since neither Waterman nor Jim 
Douglas, the mate, could be found at the moment, the mob pounced 
upon innocent old Captain Land, who happened to be in San Fran- 
cisco at the time, and threatened to hang him. This threat, as well 
as that to Waterman and Douglas, would in all probability, have been 
carried out had not the Vigilance Committee stepped in, in the nick 
of time, in true Western fashion, and saved the day. 

It was never proven that any of the crew of the Challenge were 
deliberately murdered, and after it was discovered that the men in 
the forecastle were not maimed but badly diseased, the whole affair 
died a natural death, until afterwards revived for the purpose of dis- 
crediting the clipper captains. Waterman was eventually tried, at his 
own request, and exonerated by the testimony of the passengers and 
some of his men. He settled down in California, founded the town of 
Fairfield together with Captain A. A. Ritchie, and in 1852 was ap- 
pointed Port Warden and Inspector of Hulls at San Francisco. He 
died in 1884, and ever since then the legends have been clustering 
thickly about his name. To his friends he was always Captain "Bob" — 
a hard worker and conscientious master whose liking for fine clothes 
and dandified manner contrasted strangely with an odd religious 
streak. To his enemies he was "Bully" Waterman — a psalm-singing 
fashion-plate, a brute, and a killer. Both friends and enemies agree, 


however, that Waterman had an uncanny ability to sense a wind, and 
to press his ships into extraordinary demonstrations of swiftness with- 
out damaging a sail or losing a spar. He was, in fact, one of the great 
geniuses of that era of speed. 

After the fiasco in San Francisco, Captain John Land, who seemed 
to be always inheriting the Waterman ships, took the Challenge, and 
in 1852 made several fast passages, one of which was a 33-day run 
from Hongkong, where he had picked up a cargo of coolies, to San 
Francisco, and another an 8-day run from San Francisco to Honolulu. 
On this passage he was within four hundred miles of Hongkong 
in 27 days — a record, which rounded out the career of the old man, 
since he died shortly after reaching China. Captain Pitts, formerly first 
mate of the Witchcraft, succeeded in command of the Challenge, and, 
leaving Canton on August 5 of that year, reached Deal with the 
London teas on November 18 in the record time of 65 days from 
Anjier. The following year he took his departure from Canton on July 
13 and did not arrive at Deal until the 20th of December. 

In 1854 the Challenge, under Captain Kenney, made her New York 
to San Francisco passage in 120 days. It was not a good showing, and 
in 1859 she made her last passage under the American flag. At the end 
of it, Captain Fabens, who was then in command, took her into Hong- 
kong where she was laid up for repairs and purchased, towards the 
close of i860, by a Captain Haskell. In 1861 she was sold at Bombay 
to Thomas Hunt & Co. of Great Britain, and was renamed the Golden 

In 1866 the Challenge, or the Golden City as she was still called, 
was purchased by Captain Joseph Wilson in London, and he describes 
her end in a letter written to Basil Lubbock and included by that 
writer in his account of the Challenge in The China Clippers. Captain 
Wilson was evidently none too pleased with his purchase, nor were 
her former owners, who spoke of her as a "confounded pickpocket." 
She was in sound condition throughout, however, and after a few 
minor repairs she was sent to sea but, save on a wind, proved a disap- 
pointment in the matter of speed. The spar plan of the Challenge had, 


from the time of her launching, been cut down three times, but never- 
theless Captain Wilson found her a dangerous ship to stay. The prin- 
cipal error that he found in her design seems to have been the hollow 
waterline, which caused a constant curling of a good-sized sea beneath 
her stem when traveling — a fault that naturally caused the sapping 
of power and the subsequent slowing-up of her passage through the 
water. As he speaks of her also as a "stiff" ship, and one that was there- 
fore treacherous when rolling, it can be concluded that the Challenge, 
lovely though she was, was not one of the best practical examples of 
design in the clipper era. 

On her last voyage in the Java trade, seven men were swept from 
her deck in a gale off the Cape of Good Hope, the Captain was killed, 
and the wheel and officers' house, including the occupants, with the 
exception of the third mate and Captain Wilson's nephew, were carried 
away. Her fault in staying caused her loss on her next voyage, when 
she lost her rudder and fetched up off Ushant on the French coast. 
When a French gunboat tried to save her she, according to Captain 
Wilson, "took a shear and went off on a reef of rocks," and eventually 
broke up off Aberbrache. 

iviw wkv/3 

Clipper Ship 


18 51 


W/LL/AM /l/.l&BB 

Drawn from WEBB'S Plan 

length on deck 250 feet 

beam moulded 41 feet Slnches 
depth of hold 26 feet 

tonnage cm. 2350 Tons 
draft loaded 23 feet 

original sail plan shown 


California Clipper 

JL hree events of the '50's, none of which will probably ever be for- 
gotten, were inextricably woven into the chequered career of the 
Nightingale. The first was the arrival, in America, of the Swedish 
wonder, Jenny Lind; the second, the beginning of gold-digging 
operations in Australia; and the third, the opening of the great Inter- 
national Exhibition in London. 

The bearing that these events had upon Samuel Hanscom's lovely 
clipper was not shaped in chronological fashion, however, and the 
third takes first place in point of time, since it was for exhibition pur- 
poses that the Nightingale was built. 

The London International Exhibition of 1851, which was suggested 
by Prince Albert at a meeting of the Society of Arts and which owed 
its great success in a large measure to his untiring efforts, was a master- 
stroke of diplomacy on the part of Great Britain. Fairs of a certain 
type, which had had their origin with the Society of Arts, had been 
held in Great Britain as early as 1761, but the attention of the world 
was not drawn to such exhibitions until Napoleon sponsored and di- 
rected the French one of 1798, and made it memorable by offering a 
gold medal to "that manufacturer who should best deal the heaviest 
blow to English trade." Ten of these rather selfish expositions followed 
in France from 1 801 to 1849. In time other nations caught the idea and, 
from 1820 to 1845, nearly every nation in the western world held some 
type of exhibition for the encouragement of trade and the diffusion of 

knowledge. In 1849 France, who led the world in the scope and mag- 




nificence of such affairs, had another large industrial display to which, 
in keeping with her policy of self-interest, the outside world was not 
invited. England, at the time, must have felt these national parties to 
be very irksome, or else her marvelous sense of doing the right thing — 
for England — at the psychological moment was perfectly sharpened 
for a lightning-like political play. At any rate, following upon Albert's 
suggestion, a royal commission was appointed and given a site of over 
eighteen acres for the erection of the famous "Crystal Palace," designed 
by Mr. (afterwards Sir) Joseph Paxton, in which to house an Interna- 
tional Exhibition. England took one-half of the building for herself 
and her colonies, and the other half was given to the world. On May 
Day, 1 85 1, Queen Victoria, in person, opened the exhibition. A hint 
of the grandeur of the opening day can be given by an excerpt from 
Thackeray. Years later he wrote: "Any of you who were present, as 
myriads were, at that splendid pageant, the opening of our Crystal 
Palace in London, must have seen two noble lords, great officers of the 
household, with ancient pedigrees, with embroidered coats, and stars 
on their breasts and wands in their hands, walking backward for near 
the space of a mile, while the royal procession made its progress." 

In the course of the five months that elapsed before the exhibition 
was closed and the building moved to Sydenham, more than six million 
visitors viewed "the manifold beauties which combine to give the 
structure the character it bears" and which included everything from 
machine-printed paperhangings to the Koh-i-noor diamond. The 
model of the N. B. Palmer was there as representative of the American 
merchant marine, and the schooner yacht America went to Cowes and 
carried away the Royal Yacht Squadron Cup. The Nightingale, un- 
fortunately, was never sent to the Thames, as had been planned, and 
was not a feature of the exhibition for which she had been built. 

She was an exquisite ship, not much larger than the Oriental, whose 
measurements she duplicated with the exception of a foot less draught 
and 63 more tons register ; she was finished with the greatest care, and 
fitted with large saloons and luxurious cabin arrangements — like a 
yacht. She was built at Portsmouth in the yards of Samuel Hanscom, 


Jr., and, had her owners not fallen short of money shortly before she 
was completed, she would have carried a select list of passengers to 
the Exhibition and have been, herself, on exhibition. As it was, Mr. 
Hanscom found it necessary to turn her over to Governor Goodwin 
of Portsmouth for disposal and she was launched in midsummer and 
eventually purchased for $75,000 by Sampson & Tappan of Boston. 
Everyone, including Mr. Hanscom and the subcontractors, realized 
a profit beyond that of their original contract, when Sampson & Tap- 
pan concluded the deal. The figurehead of the Nightingale was a 
likeness of Jenny Lind, for whom the clipper ship was named. 

The singer herself had arrived in America during the early days 
of the previous September, and it was an odd little old New York 
into which she stepped the day she came ashore from the Collins 
steamer Atlantic. But the hearts of the people of the early '50's were 
very large, and there was something childlike and touching about the 
reception they tendered the lovely singer; just as there was something 
equally childlike and equally revealing about their character when, two 
years later, they hissed the acting of Mrs. Forrest, who, quite in keeping 
with the period, was a success in spite of it. 

Looking backward down the years one sees something curiously 
adolescent in the make-up of a people who could roar, with a very 
young person's full sense of enjoyment, over a new speed record 
across the ocean, and crow delightedly over the dewdrop waltzes on a 
ballroom floor; who could grow equally sentimental over their smell- 
ing-salts when Jenny Lind sang Good Night or when they gazed 
at wax flowers under glass; who could cast the same eyes over the 
sweet lines of a sharp ship and over an exhibition of the Bloomer 
Schottische en costume, and say of both, "the prettiest we have seen"; 
who could not believe that steam would ever conquer sail, but who 
thought that the claim that common table salt caused consumption, 
insanity, and cancer, was a medical discovery "worthy of immortality" ; 
who could read Thackeray's Pendennis, Julia Kavanagh's Women of 
Christianity, Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, Dickens's 
Blea\ House, Melville's Moby Dic\, Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell, 


The Upper Ten Thousand of American Society, Susan Warner's The 
Wide, Wide World, and Queen Mab's Diversions for making mechani- 
cal verses, and love them all in turn. 

It was indeed, judging by today's standards, a small world in which 
the giants walked — that world which knew Irving, Clay, Webster, 
Garrison, Phillips, Abraham Lincoln, Emerson, Thoreau, and Poe; 
and, looking backward, one is inclined to agree with their own belief 
that there, in the fabulous fifties, walked the progenitors of supermen 
who would in time certainly have been produced, were it possible for 
men and women to grow, like rivers and mountains, out of centuries — 
instead of out of childhood. Yet back in that comfortable world when 
the individual mind was not overtaxed in its attempts to appreciate 
the creations of too many collective minds, a great and growing nation 
was captivated by simple things, like sailing ships and singers. Was it 
because they had some foreshadowing of a mechanized world to come, 
or was it because, in their childish simplicity, they had not yet learned 
our legerdemain in blowing bubbles and simultaneously wielding a 

Jenny Lind's first concert, on September 11, 1850, at Castle Garden, 
enchanted the small gathering which had paid over $2,600 to hear her 
sing, but, before a year had passed, she endeared herself to another 
group — the seamen — in quite another way. In the July, 1851, number 
of the Sailor's Magazine, under the heading "Miss Jenny Lind," the fol- 
lowing appeared: 

"We take pleasure in noticing that among the princely benefactions 
of Miss Lind to different benevolent objects, she has not forgotten the 
sailor. She appropriated $1000 to the Sailors' Home in New Orleans; 
$1000 to the Home in Philadelphia; a liberal donation to the Home 
in Charleston, S. C. ; $200 to Rev. O. G. Hedstrom, pastor of the Bethel 
ship, N. Y., to aid in the distribution of the Swedish Scriptures among 
her countrymen, and $273.20 to the same pastor last winter, for dis- 
tribution among the poor Swedes of his flock. May she sing forever." 

Three months later, on October 18, 1 851, the Nightingale left Boston 
on her maiden voyage. She was bound not for California, but for Aus- 


tralia, where gold-digging operations had been begun in February, 
and where the California scene was being duplicated. Similar reports 
came back to New York and London, and the newspapers began to 
give over space to letters such as this, from Hobart Town: 

"The great gold discoveries in New South Wales are the all-absorb- 
ing subject of conversation here, which is unsettling the minds of all 
classes — nothing but the 'diggings' is thought of. Only fancy a man 
picking a hundredweight of pure gold out of one hole; putting it into 
his gig, driving to the bank, and receiving ^4,500 for his morning's 
work ! If this goes on, it must unsettle the whole monetary system of 
the world. California has produced nothing equal to this. As soon as 
the news of the auriferous discovery spreads, there will, doubtless, be 
an enormous number of diggers from all parts of the world. We shall 
suffer here most seriously; indeed, already the prices of provisions have 
nearly doubled! Everything is finding its way back to New South 
Wales. The people here are already beginning to look after their cop- 
per, as likely in time to become the most valuable material. We are 
nearly through our winter, if winter it can be called, with a bright blue 

The world went a little more crazy. Business of every nature in or 
near Australia was practically at a standstill, policemen deserted the 
cities, sailors fled from their ships, newspapers dwindled to half their 
normal size as compositors rushed away with their sheet-iron pans to 
wash "pay dirt," and on the day before Christmas of that year the 
population of Adelaide moved en masse to the goldmines. The 
Nightingale, under the command of Captain John Fiske, arrived at 
Melbourne, then a city of about 20,000 inhabitants, 90 days after she 
left Boston — the first American clipper on the scene. She had loaded 
in R. W. Cameron's Line for the run, and from thence went to 
Shanghai, arriving out July 31, 1852; from Shanghai she sailed to 
Deal with tea, arriving on the 10th of December. Fiske, who was dis- 
appointed with the showing of his ship, threw up his command, al- 
though, like the wind and the weather, he was not being quite fair 
to the Nightingale. 


It was during this passage from China to London that the much- 
discussed informal race was run by four American and three British 
clippers. The American ships that can be said to have participated in 
this contest were: the Witch of the Wave, which sailed from Canton 
on January 5 at the height of the monsoon that blows in that part 
of the world from northeast during the six months beginning with 
October and ending with April; the Surprise, which sailed from the 
same port on July 19, in the third month of the summer and opposing 
southwesterly monsoon; the Nightingale, which sailed from Shanghai 
twelve days later; and the Challenge, which did not get away from 
Canton until August 5, when the southerly winds were becoming 
stronger and therefore more retarding. The British clippers S 'tor no way 
and Chrysolite took their departure from Canton on the same day — 
July 9 — also in the third month of the summer monsoon. The third 
and last of the British clippers was the Challenger, a ship of 699 tons 
which had been built that year by Richard Green of London for the 
express purpose of beating the American Challenge. She took her de- 
parture from Shanghai on July 27, just four days before the Nightin- 
gale left that port. 

Since this informal contest was made up of a combination of races 
within a race, and nearly all the ships engaged in it claimed the victory, 
it is interesting to note the results. The Witch of the Wave arrived 
in London on the 6th of April, making her passage to the Downs in 
90 days. She was easily the victor in point of time, but, since she had 
the enormous advantage of wind and weather, it would probably be 
unfair to contrast her passage with those of the six less favored clippers. 

The Chrysolite, Stornoway, Surprise, Challenger, and Nightingale 
sailed in the same month in the order named, and reached their 
English ports in identical fashion. It is still not clear who won the 
race, since both 104 and 106 days are claimed for the passage of the 
Chrysolite to Liverpool. The Surprise arrived at Deal in 106 days, the 
Stornoway reached the Downs three days after the Chrysolite docked 
at Liverpool, and the Nightingale and the Challenger, both from 
Shanghai, put in at Deal, no and 113 days respectively. The Choi- 


lenge, which did not sail from China until August, reached Deal on 
November 18 — 106 days out — but did not arrive in London until the 
22nd. If the ports of arrival and departure, the weather conditions, 
and the question of which ship anchored first and where, are all taken 
into consideration, one can obtain some idea of the squabbling that 
ensued after this informal race was over. It is problems such as this 
which made, and still makes, the relationship between American and 
British clipper-ship enthusiasts so bitter — and so sweet. 

In the third volume of his History of Merchant Shipping, Mr. W. S. 
Lindsay, of London, says (page 293), apropos of a "large dinner in the 
City ... at which a great number of the large London shipowners 
were present," that Mr. Richard Green made the following speech in 
reply to "one by the Secretary of the American Legation," who ad- 
dressed the gathering "in the flowing style not uncommon with young 
Transatlantic orators": 

" 'We have heard,' he said, 'a good deal to-night about the dismal 
prospects of British shipping, and we hear, too, from another quarter, 
a great deal about the British Lion and the American Eagle, and the 
way in which they are going to lie down together. Now, I don't know 
anything about all that, but this I do know, that we, the British ship- 
owners, have at least set down to play a fair and open game with the 
Americans, and by jove we will trump them!' " 

Mr. Lindsay goes on to say that "he did 'trump them,' for shordy 
afterwards he built a ship called the Chcdlenger to match their Chal- 
lenge, which thoroughly eclipsed her." Since Mr. Lindsay himself 
owned the Challenger, one can enjoy his enthusiasm without, however, 
relying too greatly on his words. Even if the ships had started from 
China on equal terms, the American ship reached Deal one day earlier; 
but the fact that she was waiting at Gravesend to enter the docks when 
the smaller vessel arrived and entered in at London would give her 
a margin of victory. 

There was another pair of owners whose enthusiasm for their clipper 
was not dulled by the results of the race. These were Mr. Sampson and 


Mr. Tappan of Boston, who were willing to wager a good ;£ 10,000 
against the chance that a clipper in either country could race to China 
and back and beat their Nightingale. The wager was never taken. 

The following two years the Nightingale certainly justified her 
owners' faith in her. She sailed from Portsmouth, England, on Feb- 
ruary 10, 1853, and passed Anjier on the 23rd of April in the un- 
precedented time of 72 days. After loading tea in China she took her 
departure from Woosung on the 8 th of August, and reached Deal the 
28th of the ensuing November; and in 1854 she took the mails from 
New York to Melbourne in the then record time of 75 days from pilot 
to pilot — a splendid passage. 

In 1855, still commanded by Captain Mather, she again distinguished 
herself by making another fine passage in the China trade. On this 
run, she left Shanghai on the 8th of February, just about the time 
the northeast monsoon was getting ready to break up, made Anjier on 
the 5th of March, and picked up her pilot at Beachy Head on May 
11 — 91 days out. In 1858 she made a California trip, Boston to San 
Francisco, in 148 days. Shortly afterwards she was sold to a firm in 
Salem and sent to Rio. At this point she passed to a Brazilian owner 
and was utilized as a slaver. It was a disgraceful, dirty trade for any 
lovely clipper, but the purchase was none the less complimentary since 
slavers were necessarily exceptionally speedy vessels. 

In the year 1861 after having taken aboard nine hundred and sixty- 
six slaves at Kabenda Bay, near a spot once called the paradise of 
the African coast where the natives were known for their skill as 
carpenters and tailors, the Nightingale was captured by the U. S. S. 
Saratoga and taken home again, this time as a prize. Her commander 
during her slave-running career was an American named Bowen, who 
turned up some time later as the commander of the last-known slaver 
captured — a fishing-schooner, appallingly crowded with slaves. 

The Nightingale went home, and when the Civil War broke out 
she was fitted out as an armed cruiser, survived the war, and at the 
end of it sailed again in the California and China trade. Some time 
later she was sold to Norway, and in 1893 was abandoned at sea. 



18 51 


Samuel. /-/AA/SCOf*7,Jr. 
drawn from lines in 

Monthly Nau+ical Magazine 

length on deck 165 feet 

beam 36 feet 

depth of hold 20 feet 

tonnage 1,066 

deadrise at fiat f floor-. 
36 inches 

upper lines 1/3 scale of lower lines. 


California Clippers 

A he clipper ships Challenge, Typhoon, and Rat/en were the last 
vessels built in 1851 to reach California before the year was over, and, 
with the failure of these three to better, or equal, the passage of the 
Flying Cloud, opportunities for hanging up new records to the Golden 
Gate were, for that year, at an end. In a summary of passages for 1851, 
that of the Flying Cloud flashes brilliantly against a background of 
duller runs which, taken separately and under varying conditions of 
weather, were, for sailing vessels, astonishingly swift. Yet, with one 
other exception only, none of the more than thirty clippers racing 
westward that year completed the passage in less than one hundred 
days, and but eight broke into the magic no-day circle. 

The best passages of the year — arranged for comparisons of size, 
date, and port of departure — were as follows: 

Date and Port of Departure Days 
Boston — June — 1851 89 Vs 

Boston — December — 1850 96% 

New York — April — 1851 103 

New York — May — 1851 106 

New York — August — 1851 106 

New York — November — 1850 107 

Boston — August — 1851 108 

New York — July — 1851 109 

There were other races and records that year, attended by a great 

deal of excitement and placing of bets. A strong rivalry had grown 




Flying Cloud 






N. B. Palmer 











up between the eleven-year-old Cunard Steamship Company and the 
two-year-old Collins Line, and, as the quality of performance in the 
shipping world of those days was judged by the brevity of passage, 
the ships of each company were determined to outrace those of the 
other across the Atlantic, and so establish their owners' right to the 
supremacy of that broad ocean. 

Good fortune, in that year, favored the eventually ill-fated Collins 
Line. In May it was blessed with a record to its credit: the passage, 
of the flat-bottomed, beautifully modeled Pacific, made in 9 days 
21 hours 16 minutes from New York to Liverpool; and, at the close 
of the year, the Line showed an average passage that was slightly 
shorter than that of the Cunarders.* These small encouragements to 
its steam shipping caused America to feel firmly that England was 
again vanquished at sea, thus saving the reputation of the young 
country, whose disappointment — in the event of failure — would have 
been, according to Mr. Bayard of the American Senate, "more deeply 
felt from the fact that England had already been vanquished by our 
sailing ships, and gracefully yielded to us the palm of victory, since 
more brilliantly illuminated by the yacht America, and the clipper 
ship Witch of the Wave." 

In the meantime, the fast sailing ships, which were destined like 
the Collins Line itself to lose the race against time, continued, in 
their brief period of recaptured summer, to attract attention to them- 
selves by means of shorter and more smartly made passages. Aside 
from the California records for 1851, there was the fine 13%-day 

*The average passages made by the steamers of the Collins Line for 1851 were: 
from Liverpool to New York — 11 days 8 hours 2254 minutes; from New York to 
Liverpool — 10 days 23 hours. The average passages of the Cunarders were: from 
Liverpool to New York — n days 23 hours 30 minutes; from New York to Liverpool — 
10 days 13 hours 17 minutes. When the race was carried into 1852 the Collins Liners 
averaged: from Liverpool to New York — 11 days 21 hours 52 minutes; from New York 
to Liverpool — n days 1 hour 22 minutes. The Cunard averages were: from Liverpool to 
New York — 12 days 13 hours 52 minutes; from New York to Liverpool — 10 days 21 
hours 44 minutes. In 1853 the statement was made that the Atlantic passage was to 
be made in six days, and the newspapers complacently announced that "the steamer is 
building that is to do it." Shordy after, during the same year, the New York Mirror 
and the London Daily Advertiser took a peek into the future and prophesied that 
"before long we shall have steamers crossing from Nova Scotia to Ireland in about three 
and a half days!" 

TSiorthcrn Light and Qontest 


passage made by the Typhoon from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 
to Liverpool, during the month of May, and, among the intermediate 
passages, there were these record-breakers: the John Bertram's 58-day 
run from San Francisco to Rio; the Witchcraft's 62-day run from 
Rio to San Francisco; the Southern Cross's 56-day run from San Fran- 
cisco to Calcutta; and the double record runs of the little Baltimore- 
built Seaman — one from the Equator to San Francisco in 14 days, 
and the other from San Francisco to Valparaiso in 35 days. The ma- 
jority of these passages were never surpassed by a ship under sail. 

Among the clippers built in 1851, but launched too late to par- 
ticipate in the races of that year, was the beautiful Northern Light — 
a vessel designed by Pook and built by the Briggs Brothers of South 
Boston. The brothers Briggs — E. and H. O. — were members of a 
famous family whose shipbuilding activities paralleled American com- 
mercial growth both in the later days of perfected seamanship and 
booming trade, and in those smaller, narrower days when any New 
England boy, with a mere handful of other New England boys (and 
fortified with no better instruments of navigation than a few incor- 
rect maps, a compass, and a sextant, with no better commercial knowl- 
edge than could be gained from the curious lore contained in a copy 
of Guthrie's Grammar), set sail in a ketch or sloop, or in a ship 
not much bigger than a pleasure craft, to establish trade between 
the United States and the Isles of France or Bourbon, between the 
new West and the old East of Madras, Calcutta, Bombay, Ceylon, and 
Sumatra, and to lay down routes — not only across seas but across the 
pages of history — which the endless crisscrossing of finer, more power- 
ful vessels will never quite eradicate. 

It was a James Briggs who built the ship Columbia, which in Janu- 
ary, 1788, doubled Cape Horn in company with the litde Washington, 
collected a cargo of furs on the North Pacific coast, sailed with them 
alone to Canton, picked up a cargo of tea and arrived home in August, 
1790 — the first vessel under the American flag to circumnavigate the 
globe, and the vessel for which, when later commanded by Captain 


Robert Gray, the Columbia River was named.* It was Enos Briggs who 
built the ketch Eliza, famed for the fact that the little wooden minia- 
ture of her is the earliest known existing example of the lift model, 
and it was also Enos Briggs who built the 32-gun frigate Essex for 
the American navy after France had broken her treaty of alliance 
with the United States. "King" Derby of Salem and the shipowning 
William Gray each paid ten thousand dollars towards the cost of this 
latter vessel — the people of Salem, by public subscription, paying the 
balance — and part of her cordage was supplied by Jonathan Haraden 
of General Pickering fame. The Essex played a prominent part dur- 
ing the trouble with the Barbary Powers and in the War of 18 12. 
She was eventually cut to pieces in a two-against-one battle with the 
British men-of-war, Phoebe and Cherub. 

Between 1851 and 18^8 E. and H. O. Briggs built at least twenty 
clippers, three of which, besides the Northern Light, were record- 
holders. In 1 85 1 the Southern Cross, built that year, made the previ- 
ously mentioned 56-day run from San Francisco to Calcutta; in 1856-7 
the John Land, built in 1853, established the 88-day record from Cal- 
cutta to Boston; and in 1859 the Meteor, built in 1852, made the un- 
precedented passage of 15% days from 50 ° South Pacific to the 

The Northern Light — launched on September 21, 1851 — was, how- 
ever, the most famous of the Briggs-built clippers. She was very sharp 
on the bottom, having 40 inches dead rise, and measured: length, 
171 feet 4 inches; breadth, 36 feet; depth, 21 feet 9 inches; tons 1,021. 
Her figurehead was a carved angel draped in white and holding aloft 
a flaming torch. She was owned by James Huckins & Sons, of Boston. 

Her first passage was not eventful. She left Boston, under the com- 

*The following notice (abridged) appeared in one of the Boston papers in 1850: 
"In the United States Senate on the 12th Dec, Mr. Winthrop presented the memorial of 
Mrs. Martha Gray, of this city, the widow of Capt. Robert Gray, the discoverer of the 
Columbia River. This voyage, though merely mercantile in its design, terminated in its 
tide to a vast territory in the Pacific. In the controversy between this country and Great 
Britain, which was brought to a close a few years since, no point was more successfully 
relied on by our American negotiators than the discovery of the Columbia River by 
Capt. Gray. Mr. Winthrop thought it was not too much to say that the discovery gave 
us Oregon." 


mand of Captain Bailey Loring, on November 20 and reached San 
Francisco on March 8, 1852, in the fair sailing time of 109 days, 
thence 15 days to Acapulco, 25 days back to 'Frisco, and 100 days 
home to Boston. 

On October 28, commanded by Captain Freeman Hatch, she again 
took her departure from Boston and made the run out in 118 days. 
The day after her arrival at the Golden Gate she was joined by the 
Contest and the Trade Wind, the first ship sweeping in with a bare 
42-day record run from off the Horn, 100 days from New York, and 
the second, heavily laden with cargo, 103 days out from the same 

Fifteen days later — at three p.m. on Saturday, March 12, 1853, to 
be exact — the Contest up-anchored again and made sail for home, fol- 
lowed twenty-four hours later by the Northern Light, headed in the 
same direction. The two ships, in point of size, were fairly evenly 
matched,* and a race was so certain between the two (and both against 
the Trade Wind, which sailed about the same time) that Captain 
Hatch bet a suit of clothes on the outcome. Captain Hatch's bet was, 
however, cautiously placed against the Trade Wind, since at that time 
the Contest was generally judged to be the superior ship. But the race 
developed its own surprise. 

Favored by almost identically propelling breezes, the Northern 
Light and the Contest each chalked up a splendid 14-day run to the 
Line, and from thence tore along — the one at first a full day ahead 
but the other slipping through the water faster and faster, gradually 
eating up the space and the hours between, until the 20th of April 
when, off the Horn, the crew aboard the Contest peered through the 
gloom and sofdy falling snow of that chill day, and saw the faint 

* The Contest was built at a cost of $80,000 anc ] measured: length on keel, 175 feet 
6 inches; length on deck, 180 feet (also given 181 feet 4 inches); length over all, 207 
feet; breadth, 36 feet; depth, 21 feet; capacity, 1,500 tons; 24 inches dead rise. She was 
designed by Daniel Westervelt and launched, October 9, 1852, from the yards of Jacob A. 
Westervelt for A. A. Low & Brother, New York. Her first commander was Captain 
William Brewster of Stonington. The Trade Wind measured 265x43x25: 2,030 tons. 
She was built by Jacob Bell and owned by both Booth & Edgar of New York and William 
Piatt & Son of Philadelphia. 


tracery, against the distant sky, of the spars and sails of the Northern 
Light. The following day the two ships were together. 

From then on, after the two ships parted, the Northern Light con- 
tinued to maintain her advantage over the Contest, and when the 
latter vessel picked up her pilot off the Jersey Highlands, during the 
late afternoon of May 30, the Boston vessel was already in port, having 
completed her passage from the Horn in 38 days and arrived home 
on the night of May 28. The Northern Light's run of 76 days 6 hours 
to Boston was never afterwards equaled, and, because of it, she has 
won a place in the history of the California trade — along with the 
Flying Cloud and the Andrew ]ac\son — as one of the fastest sailing 
vessels of all time. Even the World Almanac mentions that the record 
is carved on Captain Hatch's tombstone at Eastham, Cape Cod, Mas- 
sachusetts : "an achievement won by no mortal before or since." 

The Contest, however, was not without her record also, which her 
owners — stating that she had beaten such vessels as the Telegraph, 
Whirlwind, Queen of the Seas, Game Coc\, and Meteor, on her 
outward passage — were quick to bring to public attention. Her pas- 
sage of 180 days (net sailing time) from New York to San Francisco 
and return had no precedent. The Trade Wind made her passage home 
in 84 days. 

In 1853 the Northern Light made her San Francisco passage in 
122 days, 91 days return; in 1854, still under Captain Hatch, in 124 
days, thence to Calcutta and home to Boston direct in 91 days; in 
1855, commanded by Captain Seth Doane who had purchased her 
the previous year for $60,000, she made a run out to Calcutta and 
returned, in company with the North Wind, in 102 days. Her next 
passage was made from Boston to Manila in the record-beating time 
of 89 days, and she returned home in 78 days from Anjier, 107 days 
from Manila. She sailed from Boston on December 11, 1856, bound 
once more for Manila, and, returning, repeated her 78-day run from 
Anjier but was eight days longer from her port of departure. Her 
next group of passages included a round to the East Indies, a passage 
to 'Frisco, thence to Shanghai, thence to Manila, thence to San Fran- 


cisco, and thence to Acapulco and home. Her last passage in the 
California trade was made in 134 days out from Boston and 106 days 
back to New York. 

Meanwhile the Contest pursued her own career, making her pas- 
sages from July 6, 1853, to the fall of 1859, as follows: New York 
to San Francisco, arriving October 24 — no days out — in company 
with the John Bertram and the Atalanta and a day ahead of the Wild 
Ranger, all of whom she had outdistanced by a good margin on the 
way; San Francisco to Honolulu, thence to Tahiti, and home from 
the latter port in 85 days; New York to San Francisco in 126 days, 
arriving out November 17, 1854, in a damaged condition, having run 
into heavy seas (which also succeeded in washing three men over- 
board) off the Horn; New York to Bombay in 90 days, arriving out 
October 8, 1855; Bombay to Hongkong, thence to Whampoa, and 
home on August 21, 1856, in 139 days. She then returned to Shanghai, 
loaded tea at Whampoa for New York, and arrived home in 102 
days. She returned again to the China coast and was reported at 
Shanghai in August, 1859. 

On March 1, 1861, the Contest sailed from New York for San Fran- 
cisco but, striking heavy weather in the North Atiantic was forced 
to jettison part of her cargo and run for shelter, in a leaking condition, 
to St. Thomas to discharge the remainder. She returned home for 
repairs and took her departure within two weeks, arriving at the 
Golden Gate on November 4, 1861. Two months later, on Christmas 
Day, the Northern Light, having crossed to Havre earlier in the year, 
put out from that port, commanded by Captain Lovell, in ballast, 
bound for New York. On January 2, 1862, she sank the French brig 
Nouveau St. Jacques in a collision and received damages so severe 
that she, too, was soon abandoned. The captains and crews of both 
vessels were picked up by the Norma and the Bremerhaven and landed 
at the British ports of Falmouth and Cowes. 

The Contest was also nearing her end. In February, 1863, she left 
New York and made a 99-day run to Hongkong, proceeding thence 
to Yokohama where she loaded for New York. She sailed from the 


Japanese port on October 15, 1863, and, running down through the 
Strait of Sunda, was captured, plundered, and burned by the Con- 
federate cruiser Alabama on the evening of November 11. Her owners 
claimed $158,465.97 for her loss. 


Transatlantic Packet and California Clipper 


In 1848 — three years before the Staffordshire was built — the notorious 
Fox sisters, then living in upper New York State, astonished the social 
and intellectual world of the day by what appeared to be authentic 
communication with the spirit of a murdered peddler, who made 
known his messages, before witnesses, in a series of unusual, hollow- 
sounding knocks.* And from that time on, the practice of modern 
spiritualism — with its rappings and tappings, its trance states, and its 
ghostly manifestations — spread with a gusto and rapidity of acceptance 
that is not at all surprising in a century that possessed so many faces — 
one of which was all morbidity and gloom. 

Since departed spirits have from time to time shown a remarkable, 
though usually depressing, interest in current worldly events, it is 
also not strange that the tables of Boston showed some agitation just 
prior to the launching of another McKay clipper; though it is an 
item of some curiosity that the Staffordshire rather than any of a score 
of other vessels should have been singled out by the spirits for a bad 
end, and that the ship herself should have obliged them by fulfilling 
their worst predictions. 

The career of this fine, big clipper was as clean-cut and brilliant 
as it was brief. She had been built for Enoch Train & Co.'s White 
Diamond Line of Liverpool Packets — then sailing twice a month from 
Boston and once a week, on the dot, from Liverpool — and was ex- 

* Gilbert Seldes .gives an interesting account of the expose of these sisters in his book 
The Stammering Century. 



pected to grace the Line as the largest and handsomest passenger and 
freight carrier — a fact which is of no small moment since the Train 
Line, started in a small way, was built up through six years of excel- 
lent and dependable service, until it boasted a close rivalry with the 
better New York and Philadelphia lines of wind-packets, which in 
turn were fighting the menace of newer and handsomer steamships. 
This latter light was, however (according to Mr. W. S. Lindsay, 
who was an eye-witness to the facts), "not so unequal as might appear, 
arising from the fact that the current expenses of the clippers were 
far less than those of the steamers, while their capacity for cargo was 
far greater. Indeed, for a time, it was questionable whether the clip- 
pers did not yield their owners quite as good returns on the capital 
invested as the steamers." The fight was there, nevertheless, growing 
keener with each year, and Mr. Lindsay goes on to say that "the 
wooden clippers, however, had reached perfection (the world having 
never previously seen a more splendid class of sailing-ships than the 
'Yankee liners of that day,') whereas the screw, being still in its 
infancy, moved onwards with the progress of science, improvements 
in machinery tending to reduce the current expenses and to increase 
the capacity of the ship by reducing the consumption of fuel, so that 
the sailing-ships were obliged to succumb." 

Like all the packet lines of those days, the Train Line ran in con- 
nection, on the American side of the Atlantic, with a railroad com- 
pany (the Worcester and Western Railroad in Train's case), by which 
passengers, circulating through Liverpool, were booked through to vari- 
ous points in the United States and Canada — an arrangement by which 
newly landed immigrants were protected from the hordes of runners 
and crimps offering fraudulent inland passage-tickets for sale. Since 
tiny individual sums of money — generally made up of scrimpings but 
totaling into millions of dollars — were remitted annually, by settlers 
in America, to relatives and friends at home for the purpose of ena- 
bling families to be together again or to help others to a new start in a 
new world, this arrangement was in itself a godsend to those who 



were compelled to land in New York almost penniless after their 
passages were paid and their little outfits purchased. 

Compared with the excessive refinements of present-day transat- 
lantic steamers, these earlier wooden liners were humble enough, but 
the contrast between then and now is probably less striking, so far as 
immigrants are concerned, than it was between the packet ships of 
the 1850's and the immigrant carriers of the rush-days immediately 
after the War of 18 12, when it was possible and permissible for any 
Yankee captain to cram a rotten little hulk — from the orlop deck 
upward — with hundreds of the tattered victims of European oppres- 
sion and stupidity: to press them in beyond the outermost limits of 
decency, cleanliness, or safety, and, upon arriving at Atlantic ports, 
to bind those white men, white women, and white children into sev- 
eral years of virtual slavery in order that the passage money — sixty, 
seventy, or eighty dollars — might be refunded to the captain. Before 
the transatlantic liners, with their regulated sailing dates, came into 
existence conditions obtained aboard immigrant ships which, set down 
in bare government reports and statistics, were such as to make even 
an ordinarily mild-tempered person froth at the mouth — were it not 
for the fact that these things happened so long ago, and that the rich, 
red blood of America, traveling along her commercial arteries, is still 
being used for the purpose of fattening the blood-sucker while it 
feeds the normally healthy body of trade. While it would be ridiculous 
to assume that all vessels of the clipper period were noble examples of 
marine architecture, that all captains were blue-eyed religious men, 
and that all shipowners had only the best interests of passengers at 
heart, it is nevertheless true that vital transportation changes were made 
only when the packet lines were established. Some respect is there- 
fore due the men and ships that were direcdy responsible for a new 
order of affairs (long before the law stepped in with strong injunc- 
tions for all), even though such changes were brought about purely 
through money-making motives. 

Immediately prior to 1851, passengers traveling by way of Liver- 
pool were provided with the following weekly food rations: 21 quarts 


of water, 2% pounds of biscuit, 1 pound of wheaten flour, 5 pounds 
of oatmeal, and 2 pounds of rice (all parceled out twice a week), with 
the privilege of choosing potatoes instead of oatmeal or rice (in the 
proportion of 5 pounds of potatoes to 1 pound of rice) or (for Scotch 
and Irish passengers) 2 pounds of oatmeal in lieu of the 2 pounds of 
rice. After the Act of 185 1 was passed, beef and pork, preserved meat, 
salt fish, and split peas were allowed as substitutes for the usual bread- 
stuffs, so that by the time the Staffordshire was launched the Train 
Line was offering the following weekly provisions to second-cabin 
and steerage passengers: 2 ounces of tea, 8 ounces of sugar, 8 ounces 
of molasses, 5 pounds of oatmeal, 2 l / 2 pounds of navy bread, 1 pound 
of wheaten flour, 1 pound of salt pork, 2 pounds of rice, and vinegar, 
as well as daily allowances of 3 quarts of water, fires, and suitable places 
for cooking. 

It cannot be said that the food allowances were very varied or gen- 
erous, but legal requirements succeeded in wiping out the old state of 
affairs that prevailed when passengers, who were expected to provide 
their own food, boarded ship for America with little more than a bag 
of potatoes — or perhaps nothing at all. The two greatest causes of 
suffering and death aboard ship in the 1850's were: the obligation of 
passengers to cook for themselves, and (particularly where sailing 
ships were concerned) insufficient ventilation. As for the first condi- 
tion — aside from normal fire hazards — there were actual cases of star- 
vation caused by the inability of passengers, prostrated by seasickness, 
to prepare food. As for the second, as late as 1854 the attention of 
Congress was called to the increasing mortality caused by lack of pure 
air; and in order to understand this increase one has only to imagine 
conditions below deck in a calm, and the stench and filth of people 
who would not or could not keep clean during prolonged storms. 

The Staffordshire, built for this carrying trade, was a dry, comfort- 
able, three-decked ship of 1,817 tons, 243 feet in length over all, with 
41 feet breadth of beam, 29 feet depth of hold, and 20 inches dead- 
rise at half floor. Her figurehead was a white witch, and, because 
she was named for the Staffordshire potteries, her stern was elaborately 


carved and ornamented with a gilt-work scene of this little county in 
the heart of England, and also with a complementary scene of Train 
& Co.'s Boston storehouse. She was launched on June 17, 1851. 

On her first transadantic passage she was commanded by Captain 
Albert H. Brown, veteran of the packet service, who took her from 
Boston to Liverpool in the fall of 1851 in 14 days and 18 hours; 
but shordy after her return it was decided to rerig the ship for the 
California run, and Captain Josiah Richardson, one-time master of 
the Staghound, took command. She then made the one really tri- 
umphant passage of her career. 

On the 3rd of May, 1852, after some delay which was partly owing 
to a difficulty in securing cargo, passengers, and crew — because of 
the dark hints that were clustering thickly about her name — the 
Staffordshire finally set sail from Boston, with 120 passengers, in com- 
pany with the 903-ton clipper Shooting Star. The weather conditions 
for both ships seem to have been fairly fine all the way, and 101 days 
later the Staffordshire arrived at San Francisco, having smashed the 
record from 50 South Pacific in a 36-day run. Four days later she 
was joined at the western port by the smaller Shooting Star. From 
San Francisco Captain Richardson took his ship to Calcutta, and, 
sailing again on January 25 from Saugor, drove her home again in 
a swift, remarkable passage of 82 days — the fastest sailing time diat 
had ever been known, up to then, on the Calcutta run. 

To this point the Staffordshire had sailed in dignity and safety — 
despite the wind and the devil, the shaking of Boston heads and the 
tapping of Boston tables ; but the fancies (which must have enlivened 
the hours of the watch below and emphasized those on deck at night) 
were all too soon to find point and meaning in tragic fact. 

Shortly after her fine Calcutta run, Mr. Train decided to put his 
queen clipper-packet back into the service for which she was originally 
intended, and in December, 1853, she crossed to Liverpool once more 
to bring back a cargo of immigrants to America. 

The day before Christmas, while nearing Nova Scotia, her steering 
gear became useless and a few days later she lost her bowsprit. While 


giving directions for clearing up the wreckage, Captain Richardson 
fell a full thirty-five feet from the rigging to the deck, seriously injur- 
ing his spine and ankle. He was carried to his cabin, from whence, 
in spite of bitter pain, he continued to navigate his ship — an heroic 
enough action which needed no further heroism to prove the mettle 
of the man; but the Staffordshire was not destined to reach Boston 
or any other port, though, in the bitterly cold hours between mid- 
night of the 29th and morning of the 30th of December, when the 
ship struck on Blond Rock near Cape Sable, it was still the Captain 
who issued instructions, from his cabin, for the launching of boats 
and the saving of women and children. Between 170 and 178 persons 
perished that night in the sinking of the Staffordshire. 

Josiah Richardson was a typical clipper captain — in fact, when he 
took over the Stag Hound he was spoken of as the dean of Ameri- 
can shipmasters — and it is a matter for note that, just before the loss 
of his last command, it had been suggested that he be carried to safety 
by the last boat leaving for the shore . . . and that he refused, preferring 
to share the fate of his vessel. 

An act of self-sacrifice such as this, coming as it did near the end 
of a passage which was to have been, ironically enough, his farewell 
to the sea, would seem worthy of some comment whenever and 
wherever American clippers and their masters are mentioned; yet 
only too often the great heart of a man like Captain Richardson eludes 
the historian's magnifying glass before he settles it with finality, and 
for all the world to see, over the infinitesimal misdeeds of lesser men. 


California Clippers 

When Donald McKay's last clipper ship of 1851 was launched, 
the year was entering upon its final quarter — shrinking into itself and 
away from the light of reality, like a waning moon, as it passed 
slowly and for all time into the mansions of history. Eight months 
had canted backward into space, heavy with the obliterated events 
they had looked upon. There was January : the passing of the Fugitive 
Slave Law; the news of the death of Audubon; and, from abroad, 
word of the Austrian occupation of Hamburg. February: the occu- 
pation of Liibeck; the beginning of gold-digging operations in Aus- 
tralia; and, at home, trouble in Boston over a negro named Shadrach. 
March, save for the deeding of the Hawaiian Islands to the United 
States (subsequendy returned by Secretary of State Webster) was 
virtually eventless; but in April, in Boston, there was the dispute 
over the use of Faneuil Hall, and, from Washington, President Fill- 
more's warning to citizens to take no part in the proposed expedition 
of the Spanish official, General Narciso Lopez, against Cuba. Then 
May: the opening of the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London, and, 
in Charleston, the meeting of the Southern Rights Association and 
the passing of a resolution favoring secession from the Union. June 
was marked by a rebellion in southern China. July was quiet — save 
for the probable popping of firecrackers which, according to the news- 
papers of the time, were being imported into the country in deplorable 

quantities; but, in August, Lopez succeeded in eluding the vigilance 



of the United States government, and with 480 men sailed out of New 
Orleans in the steamer Pampero. 

The story of Lopez, even then, was an old one; but this promised 
sequel to his attempts of 1848-9 to free Cuba from Spanish rule gave 
the people of the United States a new note of breathlessness to add to 
their former watchful waiting for the explosion of small international 
bombshells. A few miles from Bahia Honda the Pampero ran aground, 
and, after landing at Playtas, Lopez proceeded into the interior with 
three hundred men, leaving his chief officer, Colonel W. S. Critten- 
den, and the remaining men to guard the stores. On the 13th of 
August, Crittenden and his men were attacked and routed. Attempt- 
ing to effect an escape they were captured by a Spanish warship, car- 
ried to Havana on the 15th, tried and condemned by military court, 
and shot on the following day. On the 28 th Lopez was captured, and, 
on the first day of the following month, was strangled in Havana. 
His sympathizers in the United States mourned their hero, but for the 
moment the government breathed more easily. 

On the first of the following month, also, the fame of Donald 
McKay spanned the American continent from Boston to San Fran- 
cisco. In the waters off the western city the Flying Cloud was cele- 
brating her first record-smashing victory — then less than twenty-four 
hours old — and in the East the almost faultless Flying Fish rose and 
fell for the first time on the gently breathing waters of Boston Harbor. 

The month marched on and, with it, the United States took one 
more step in an ensuing decade of steps towards war. In Lancaster 
County, Pennsylvania, on September 11, a house near the village of 
Christiana was broken into by Edward Gorsuch, his son, some friends, 
and a United States officer, demanding the return of two supposedly 
secreted negro slaves. A general free-for-all followed — participated 
in by nearly two hundred negroes and whites; the slave-owner was 
killed, his son wounded, and it became suddenly necessary for the 
President to order officers and marines to the scene of the trouble. 
Arrests were made and trials followed, but the North scored a victory 
in that there were no convictions. 

— • — ' " " - ' ■"■""" ■"'■'"^'■"•esB^B-B^— BB™SSW9a>K9B!SE 

F/v/wg F/V// aw/ Sword fish 


The death of James Fenimore Cooper was announced on the 14th 
of the month; and, on the same day, somewhere off in the Gaspar 
Straits an American captain fought for his life as pirates swarmed 
the decks of the crippled clipper ship Memnon; while at home, in 
New York City, finishing touches were being put on another smart 
new sailing ship, the Swordfish, preparatory to her launching six days 
later. The month closed with another Vigilance Committee hanging 
on Carson River, Nevada. 

In October the Fugitive Slave Law received another blow — at Syra- 
cuse, New York — when Jerry McHenry, fugitive, was rescued from 
jail by Gerrit Smith, the Reverend Samuel May, and a mob, and 
shipped to Canada away from the claims of his Missouri owner. This 
incident passed by without a trial — significandy cutting through law 
and order. 

Then November arrived and, with it, commercial rivalry, good 
sportsmanship, national and international entanglements all jockey- 
ing for first place in the news. In maritime circles, the impending 
departures of the clipper ships Flying Fish and Swordfish, for Cali- 
fornia, promised one of the most exciting deep-sea races of the year 
and an opportunity for settling, momentarily at least, the always hotly 
contested question of shipbuilding supremacy. 

The two ships — as a study of their subsequent careers will show 
— were beautifully matched for a race over almost any course, al- 
though the Flying Fish was somewhat larger than the Swordfish, 
her measurements being: length, 207 feet; breadth, 39 feet 6 inches; 
depth, 22 feet; tons, 1,505; and dead-rise 25 inches. Her ends were 
sharper than those of the Flying Cloud, but in many respects she 
showed her sistership to that crack vessel. She was owned by Samp- 
son & Tappan, of Boston — owners also of the Stag Hound and the 
Nightingale. Her figurehead, like her name, was apt; it was a replica 
in green and gold of that aerial-minded fish whose flight is so rapid 
when its wings are wet. 

The Swordfish, whose lines are shown at the end of this chapter, 
was built by William Webb for Barclay & Livingston of New York 


City. She was quite sharp, though less so than some of Webb's earlier 
ships — notably the Gazelle and the Challenge — and she measured: 
169.6x36.6x20: 1,036 tons. She was launched on September 20, 1851, 
was very heavily sparred, and carried a great spread of canvas. 

The Flying Fish was commanded by Captain Edward Nickels and 
the Swordfish by Captain David Babcock, brother-in-law of N. B. 
Palmer. Both men were top-ranking skippers; there were, in fact, 
few better in their day. 

At 11:30 o'clock on the morning of November 6, the Flying Fish 
was towed out of Boston by the tug Mayflower; by sunset she was 
28 miles east by south of the outer station; and four days later was 
1,194 miles from home. The following day, November 11, the. Sword- 
fish was on her way to diminish the lead of the other vessel, overtake 
her, and sail into San Francisco with the victory. 

The month closed on a semi-belligerent note, with the United 
States and England nearly becoming involved in another war. Near 
the harbor of San Juan de Nicaragua, or Greytown, the English war- 
ship Express opened sudden fire on the Prometheus, an American 
passenger steamer owned by the Adantic and Pacific Canal Com- 
pany, the captain of the Express asserting that, since the Prometheus 
had attempted to leave the harbor without paying certain port dues, 
he was fully entitled, in his efforts to protect the Greytown authori- 
ties, to sink the ship if necessary. The dues were paid; the British 
government denounced the action as contrary to existing treaty obli- 
gations; and another war, fought in the interests of freedom on the 
high seas, was narrowly averted. On the 25th, the Flying Fish had 
crossed the Line- — nineteen days out — and by noon was in latitude 
24' South. The Swordfish did not cross until December. 

December was a busy month, but the happy round of human 
affairs was momentarily halted by the chill news of the inhuman coup 
d'etat by which Louis Napoleon, vest-pocket Bonaparte, made himself 
master of France. While the blood-drunk army, "making its voice 
heard" according to instructions from the Palace of the Elysee, 
charged, like hunters greedy and mad for game, upon milling Parisian 


mobs, the American people — represented by delegations of various 
classes and political views — were preparing a rousing, typically ebul- 
lient welcome to the famous Magyar chief, Louis Kossuth. At approx- 
imately the same time a little ship was skimming across the Equator 
through the nine-day-old track of the Flying Fish — an event of litde 
importance in the affairs of the world at large, but of great impor- 
tance to the world within the ship. 

The latter part of the month was marked by fire at the Capitol in 
Washington and by the destruction of the forty-million-dollar State 
Library. In England a news item reported that "it would appear as 
though the news of the gold discoveries in Australia had penetrated to 
the wretched inmates of the hulks who have been sentenced to the 
penalty of transportation, and that they regard themselves as unfairly 
dealt with because they are not sent out at the public expense to the 
'land of promise' where, furnished with the convicts' passport — a 
'ticket of leave,' they may apply themselves to the pleasant task of 
literally 'reaping a golden harvest.' " On the 27th of the month the 
convicts on board the Warrior at Woolwich mutinied, took possession 
of two decks, and "got hold of pipes and tobacco and commenced 
smoking." They were subdued, however, and part were transferred 
to the Millbank Penitentiary and part taken on board the Wye. On 
the 28th of the month, nearly 500 houses were destroyed at Hong- 
kong; on the 30th Turner, the marine painter, was buried; and on 
the last day Kossuth was presented to the United States President. 
Suddenly, and irrevocably, a colorful year was over. 

On the second day of the new year, the Swordfish, 52 days out, 
was crossing latitude 50 South in the Pacific, and nineteen days later 
— the day before the Flying Fish reached the same point — she flashed 
over the Line down the final stretch of the run to 'Frisco. The contest 
was as close and exciting as a race staged for the game of it; from the 
moment the Swordfish nosed ahead she was favored by a winning 
streak which brought her, on her 89th day out, within 140 miles nearer 
the Golden Gate than the Flying Cloud had been on her passage the 
year before. Her finish was cyclonic and her passage, 90 days 18 hours. 


stands as the fourth best passage of all time. The Flying Fish, on her 
88th day out, was still 1,000 miles from her destination fuming in the 
midst of light winds and calms, but finally, at 2 p.m. on the 14th of 
February, she received her San Francisco pilot and anchored of? the 
bar at 6 p.m. She was in port the following morning — 100 days 6 
hours out. 

From San Francisco the Flying Fish made a 51 -day passage to 
Manila, departed from there on May 17, 1852, and arrived at New 
York 123 days later, having made the passage in 93 days from Anjier. 
The Swordfish made a 48-day passage to Hongkong, then a round 
trip to Bombay, and on September 25 took her departure from 
Whampoa, on the wrong side of the monsoon weather. She reached 
New York 89 days later, 70 days from Anjier. 

While the Swordfish was still working her way homeward from 
China, the Flying Fish sailed from New York City, October 31, 1852, 
on her second passage to California. She made a slower run down 
to the Horn this year, but from 50 ° South in the Pacific to the Equator 
gained three days over that of her previous time, and on January 31, 
1853, anchored at San Francisco, 92 days 4 hours out. On the run 
down the Atlantic she had passed the new Hall clipper John Gilpin, 
then on her maiden voyage from New York City. The John Gilpin 
was by no means a dull sailer, as attested by the fact that she regained 
her lead and piloted the Fish to the Horn, but she soon fell in with 
heavy weather and the Fish nosed ahead. Then, astonishingly enough, 
the Gilpin showed a fresh burst of speed and, sprinting along, soon 
showed her heels to the following Fish. Yet in spite of crowded canvas 
and masterly handling by Captain Justin Doane, she was unable to 
cut down the time-lead of the other vessel, and, though she entered 
the port of San Francisco first, her passage was one day and sixteen 
hours longer. 

Two other vessels sailing from New York — one on October 12 and 
the other on November 14 — were slightly less fortunate. The Trade 
Wind, sailing last, made the passage in 103 days but was partly handi- 
capped on the way by having to subdue a fire which had broken out 


in the hold. The Wild Pigeon had a bitter fight with baffling winds, 
followed by a week-long gale; and, off the Horn, she walked into 
another violent blow which held her in a ten-day grip. About this 
time, at the parallel of 51 ° South in the Pacific, the John Gilpin and 
the Flying Fish were also coming up and, according to Lieutenant 
Maury, in his fine account of this race in his Physical Geography of 
the Sea: "On the 30th of December the three ships crossed the parallel 
of 35 South, the Fish recognizing the Pigeon. The Pigeon saw only 
a 'clipper ship,' for she could not conceive how the ship could possibly 
be the Flying Fish, as that vessel was not to leave New York for 
some three weeks after she did; the Gilpin was only thirty or forty 
miles off at the same time." The Wild Pigeon, thus, did not know 
that both the Fish and the Gilpin had passed her until she reached 
port on the 118th day of her passage. 

The race of these four vessels from New York to San Francisco 
is sometimes referred to as the most celebrated match of the period. 
Each ship was provided with Maury's wind and current charts, al- 
though Captain Nickels of the Flying Fish disobeyed his, part of the 
time — a fact that probably lost him the opportunity of demolishing the 
record of the Flying Cloud. 

Twelve days after the Flying Fish put in at the western port, the 
Sword fish took her departure for her second run to California, arriv- 
ing out on May 30 in 107 days. The Fish, in the meantime, had com- 
pleted a 40-day passage to Manila, from which port she sailed again 
on May 6, 1853, and arrived back in Boston 107 days later, 70 days 
from Anjier. The following month the Swordfish was just leaving 
San Francisco for China. She dropped her pilot at 2 p.m. on June 16, 
and 32 days 9 hours later at 11 p.m. anchored off the entrance to 
Shanghai to await daylight. The passage was a record-breaker. She 
then went on to Whampoa to load for home and sailed again October 
15, soon afterwards striking a typhoon and losing sails, foreyard, and 
mizzen skysail mast. She was in New York again in 97 days. 

The Flying Fish's third passage to San Francisco — September 20, 
1853, to January 11, 1854 — was made in 113 days, light winds through- 


out. From Manila to New York she took 109 days, 80 days from 
Anjier. The Sword fish's third passage west was in no days, thence 
42 days to Hongkong, and, returning, from Manila to New York in 
102 days. The total time consumed during her voyage around the world 
amounted to ten months and twelve days, including 55 days in ports. 
She logged 39,977 miles at a daily average of 153 miles. 

In 1854 the Flying Fish sailed again from Boston to California, com- 
pleting the passage in 113 days. Captain Adams, who was in com- 
mand (the only time throughout her American career that she was 
not commanded by Captain Nickels), had light winds most of the 
passage, with skysails set for 85 days. She twisted off her rudderhead, 
off the Horn, and temporary steering tackles were rigged to complete 
the trip. Outside the Golden Gate she ran into three days of thick, 
delaying fog. Captain Nickels resumed command at San Francisco, 
sailed her to Manila in 57 days, and thence to Batavia and Padang. 
She sailed from the latter port on May 20, 1855, and arrived at Boston 
86 days later. 

The Sword fish, under new ownership, having been sold the previous 
year to Crocker & Warren for $55,000, departed from New York 
on March 23, 1855, and arrived at San Francisco 120 days later, 
reporting heavy weather off the Horn. From thence she sailed to 
Whampoa and home in 71 days. 

The Flying Fish made her fifth passage to California in 105 days, 
her sixth in 106 days, and her seventh in 114 days. The average of 
her seven runs to San Francisco — 105 days 15 hours (all her passages 
made during unfavorable weather periods) — is magnificent, many 
clippers having rested their claims to fast sailing on single passages 
of greater length. 

After putting into port at the end of her seventh run the Fish 
crossed to Hongkong and then returned for the eighth and final time 
to San Francisco. She arrived there on June 22, 1858, at the end of 
a 46-day passage made, for the most part, in sluicing rain and against 
heavy head winds. Then once more she returned to Hongkong and 
from thence departed to Foochow for a cargo of tea for New York. 


She never reached New York. On November 23, just as she was 
coming out of the River Min, the wind headed her off and she was 
forced to tack several times. The third time — obviously failing to gain 
sufficient headway, since she was never known to be anything but 
an obedient ship — she missed stays and, there being too little room to 
bring her about on the opposite tack, the working anchor was dropped. 
This fouled, however, and the best bower anchor also fouled, and 
the Fish was carried onto a sandbank by the shifting waters. Her 
knees were broken, her breast hooks displaced, and she sprang a bad 
leak, but, oddly enough, when she was hauled off again, the displaced 
parts sprang into position and the leak became scarcely apparent. She 
was thoroughly examined afterwards, found to be unsound, con- 
demned, and sold to a mercantile firm in Manila. Her purchasers had 
her rebuilt at Whampoa, and, as El Bueno Suceso, she spent a number 
of years thereafter trading between Manila and Spain. She eventually 
foundered in the China Sea. 

The Flying Fish had been lying at Padang, to which port she pro- 
ceeded from Manila after her fifth voyage to San Francisco, when the 
Sword fish departed from New York, May 7, 1856, for Panama. It 
was a slow passage out, with six trying days spent in clearing Cape 
St. Roque, another twenty-seven in rounding the Horn, and a total 
of 86 used up before she was finally sailing northward in the Pacific. 
From Panama she sailed to Manila and home again in 101 days. In 
1857 she traveled from New York to Hongkong in 102 days, thence 
to Manila, and from Manila to New York, making the run between 
the two latter ports in 107 days. The following year she sailed from 
New York to Hongkong in 98 days, and returned in 104. In 1859 
she had a rough passage out to China, half flooded most of the time 
by seas that washed out the galley, filled the cabin, officers' quarters, 
and forecastle, and nearly swamped the ship. She carried on, however, 
tearing along for days at a phenomenal pace — at one time scudding 
under bare poles at 14 knots an hour — and eventually arrived in port 
on October 14, 1859, with a deserting crew. She sailed again on De- 
cember 12, passed Anjier ten days out, reached the Cape in another 


31 days, and the Line in 25 days more. She was becalmed on the 
Equator for five days, but, in spite of that, reached New York on 
March 2, i860, in the double record time of 16 days from the Line, 
81 days from Shanghai. 

Her 1 861 passage from China to New York was made in 102 days 
from Shanghai, after which she was again sent out to San Francisco, 
from which port she was not destined to return. She had a bad time 
of it out, losing the first mate and almost losing the crew of the boat 
that was lowered in an attempt to rescue him. She arrived at the Golden 
Gate on September 12, 1861, after a run of 136 days; crossed from 
thence to Hongkong in 56 days; returned in 36^ days; recrossed to 
China (going first to Foochow) in 47 days, and then to Shanghai. 

On July 9, 1862, she took her departure from Shanghai loaded with 
cotton for Amoy, ran into trouble outside the Marks, and was forced 
on to the north bank of the Yangtse, where she was completely de- 
stroyed. What was left of her was - sold at auction on July 26 for 100 

Clipper Ship 




length on deck 170 feet 
beam moulded 35 feet 10 inches 
depth of hold 20 feet 2 inches 
tonnage cm. 1130 tons 


California Clipper 

± he twelve months that calendared the events of 1852 witnessed 
a year of many changes, the majority of which were of the usual 
emotion-charged, typical-of-the-age variety that shaped themselves and 
passed, like water, around new figures, new ideas and new names; 
but a few were turning points — were like those rigid, vitally important 
finger-posts which point down national and international corridors 
where question marks hide the view at the end. 

As the months moved on they saw Louis Napoleon emerge, an 
Imperial Eagle, from the self -hatched egg of the Presidency of France; 
and, in America, they saw the Whig Party receive its death-blow — 
companioned by the death of Webster — as Franklin Pierce, Democrat, 
was elected to the Presidency of the United States. They saw idols 
change faces: Lola Montez was dancing at Castle Garden, the spot 
once held sacred to Jenny Lind; and Louis Kossuth, now the new 
hero, was publicly received by the Senate, banqueted by Congress, per- 
mitted, by the government, to run up a $4,600 hotel bill, and to borrow 
over $100,000 from the people. They saw Great Britain laugh at 
American worship of the Magyar chief, as she had laughed at the 
worship of the Swedish Nightingale. And, a short time later, they 
saw Great Britain wonder why the worship of both had ended so soon. 

They saw a touch of medievalism: the start of Commodore Matthew 
Calbraith Perry on the expedition that was to open up Japan; a touch 
of the twentieth century: the announcement of the invention of color- 
photography; and a blend of the passing and of the future in the 



Sovereign of the Seas 



words: streamlined clipper ships. And they saw also, among a host of 
other particulars, the publication of the sensationally received, war- 
quickening Uncle Tom's Cabin; the increase of the Collins Line sub- 
sidy to $858,000 a year; and another discovery of gold — this time in 

The clipper ships that year, before they reached the peak — in 1853 
— of their prosperous trade and popularity, were racing as ships had 
never raced before: rocketing home from California, Australia, Lon- 
don, and the Orient, with the good wishes of the world echoing in 
every favoring breeze, and their holds filled with promise for the 
pockets of their owners. Winds, which were speeding other ships from 
port to port in record-smashing passages, brought a hasty end to the 
old Ann McKim, and, in the China Seas, whirled a typhoon into the 
path of the John Bertram, cracking her double-reefed topsails and 
stormsails out of the bolt-ropes, smashing her trestie-trees and cross- 
trees, and hurling two of her men to their death in the waters below. 
But they sped the Sea Witch out on her seventh successful voyage; 
they brought the Oriental home to New York again after an absence 
that had taken her back and forth, between foreign ports, over 95,000 
miles of sea; they were more than kind to American ships in the China- 
to-England trade; and they carried fourteen clippers into the port of 
San Francisco in passages of no days and under. 

While fast sailing ships were thus winging their way through hal- 
cyon days, the most tragic event of the year at sea fell to the lot of a 
steamer. The British owned Amazon, a. 3,000-ton ship — the largest 
timber-built merchant steamship that had been constructed up to the 
time of her launching in June, 1851 — took her departure from South- 
ampton early in January with mails for the West Indies, a cargo valued 
at over twenty thousand pounds sterling, and five hundred bottles of 
quicksilver for mining operations in Mexico. Two days later she was 
in flames, and 115 of the 161 persons aboard were burned in their 
berths, suffocated, or drowned. Excerpts from the account given by 
Mr. Vincent, a young midshipman who was saved, oudine the picture: 


"The Amazon, on clearing Southampton Water on Friday evening 
week, encountered in the Channel strong head winds and rain; and on 
two different occasions, prior to the discovery of the fire, she was 
obliged to be stopped in her course, on account of what is technically 
termed 'hot bearings,' in other words, the heating to redness of the 
axles, and other moving parts of the engines, by the excessive friction 

of the new machinery At 11:20 p.m., January 3rd, she proceeded, 

still steering in the same course, steaming about 8 l / 2 knots per hour, 
wind and sea increasing from the windward. At 40 minutes a.m. on 
the 4th smoke was observed coming through the hatchway on the fore- 
side of the foremast funnel. Immediately afterwards the flames burst 
through. . . . The mail-boat, when lowered, was immediately swamped, 
with about twenty-five people in her, all of whom were lost. The pin- 
nace, when lowered, sheered across the sea before the people in her 
could unhook the fore-tackle. They were washed out, and the boat 
remained hanging by the bow. . . . When the flames had approached 
the after-companion, two male passengers came up from the saloon, 
all in flames. . . . While clearing away the second cutter, a sea struck 
her and raised her off the cranes and unhooked the bow-tackle. The 
fore-end immediately fell down, and the people in her, with the excep- 
tion of two who hung doubled over the thwarts, were precipitated into 
the sea and drowned. . .. At about the same time I [Mr. Vincent], 
with the chief steward, one passenger, and two seamen, got into and 
lowered the dinghy, and were picked up by the life-boat about half an 
hour afterwards, when we immediately took the small boat in tow, 

and stood down for the ship At the time of leaving some of those 

who yet lived were kneeling on the deck praying to God for mercy, 
while others, almost in a state of nudity, were running about screaming 

with horror While lying to, a barque passed astern of us, and was 

accordingly hailed, and did, I believe, answer, but did nothing of any 
kind to assist us, but stood down to leeward of the ship, hauled on a 

wind, and went away At 5 the magazine exploded, and about 

half an hour afterwards the funnels went over the side, soon after 
which the ship went down bodily." 

The Amazon was owned by the West India Mail Steamship Com- 
pany (which had lost no fewer than eight very fine steamers between 
1841 and 1852) and was built by Messrs. R. & H. Green, of Blackwall; 


with engines of 800 horse-power by Messrs. Seward and Capel, of 
Millbank, Poplar. She was valued at one hundred thousand pounds 
sterling, but was not insured. Captain William Symons, who went 
down with the ship, was appointed to the command temporarily, since 
the Amazon was originally intended for Captain Chapman of the Tay, 
then absent from England. Just prior to the sailing of the ill-fated 
steamer, Captain Symons was presented with a silver speaking trumpet 
by the United States Mail Steamship Company because he had "re- 
cently distinguished himself by great bravery in the Isthmus of Panama, 
where, by his intrepidity and coolness, he prevented the slaughter of 
a great number of American passengers by the infuriated natives, and 
where, under a heavy fire of musketry and cannon, he succeeded in 
conveying gold dust to the value of 2,000,000 dollars in the boats of 
the Medway on board the United States Mail steamship Cherokee; and 
further, in rescuing passengers under circumstances of imminent dan- 
ger, and placing them safely on board the steamer." 

The loss of the British steamer seems to have made an enormous 
impression upon the minds of the people at the time, but it failed to 
dull the enthusiasm for ships. Launches continued to draw people by 
the thousands, sailing dates were noted, bets were laid, fast passages 
were demanded, and favorite ships continued to hold a foremost posi- 
tion in topics of conversation and in the press. Over seventy lovely 
clippers left the stocks in 1852, but there was perhaps no American ship 
of the time, immediately before or after — save the Flying Cloud — 
that fascinated the public one-half so much as did the McKay clipper 
Sovereign of the Seas. 

This ship was launched in midsummer, from new quarters then 
recently taken over by Donald McKay, and named for the famous 
old English vessel which had been designed for Charles I by Phineas 
Pett — Master of Arts of Emanuel College, Cambridge — and built un- 
der the supervision of Peter Pett who in 1640 built the first English 
frigate, which according to Samuel Pepys was modeled after a French 
ship of the type that Pett had seen in the Thames, but which, accord- 
ing to other authorities, was originated by Peter Pett. Both Phineas 

174 C L IP pEK - SHIPS 

and his son belonged to the famous family whose members — from the 
time of Henry VIII to William and Mary — had designed and built 
ships for the British navy. 

In choosing the name of the famous old Sovereign, Mr. McKay (or 
George Francis Train) * made a very happy selection. According to 
Charnock "splendour and magnificence were particularly kept in view" 
in building the Carolean vessel, and certainly there was no expense 
spared to make the younger ship the most beautiful merchantman 
afloat. Gleason's Pictorial published the following particulars: 

"The dimensions of the Sovereign of the Seas: length of keel, 245 
feet; ** extreme breadth of beam, 44 feet; breadth at the gunwales, 
42 feet; depth, including 8 feet between decks, 23% feet. Registered 
capacity, 2421 tons. Her rise of floor at 11 feet from the center of the 
keel is 20 inches; she has concave water-lines, but her outline on the 
rail is convex. She has longer and sharper ends than any ship or ocean 
steamer in the world.*** Her stern is semi-circular in outline, and very 
snug, and her sheer is carried boldly forward, imparting grace and 
lightness to the bows. Such is the harmony of her proportions, that, 

* The nephew of Enoch Train claims in his Biography to have changed the name 
of the vessel from the Enoch Train to the Sovereign of the Seas. 

** Length on deck, 258 feet; overall from knightheads to taffrail, 265 feet. 

*** It will be noted that the McKay vessels, built after the Stag Hound, had much less 
dead-rise than that given by Mr. McKay to his initial clipper. It would seem, therefore, 
that — since the Boston builder was neither a theorist nor an experimenter, but a man 
who observed results and acted accordingly — there is little point in arguing over the 
advantages of the flat-floored ship over the wedge-bottomed ship, or vice versa, on the 
California run. W. S. Lindsay, viewing American shipbuilding progress from British 
shores, had this to say: "The almost dead flat floor, adopted with the American idea 
of, as far as practicable, skimming over the surface of the water, rather than forcing 
a passage through it, is at variance with the form hitherto considered by us most 
desirable where great speed is required. But we are daily expanding the breadth of the 
round and rising floors of our ships, and approaching the American form, and, so 
long as there is sufficient depth to secure stability, some persons consider that vessels 
with flat floors and fine ends are the best models for speed as well as capacity." Mr. McKay 
designed his ships to make fast passages to San Francisco, and there is no getting 
around the fact that they made fast passages. It is true that they were driven, but dull 
captains have never yet won a contest, nor have "slowcoaches" ever proven to be fast 
sailers. There have been instances, in fact, where additional machinery and boilers have 
been added to accelerate the speed of poorly designed steamships, whereas half the 
power was all that was necessary to bring out the maximum speed of which such ships 
were ever capable. It is erroneous to say that a ship can be made to go faster than the 
speed for which she was designed. It is the spars and sails that will go faster — not the 


viewed at two or three hundred yards' distance, she does not appear 
to be larger than many full modelled vessels of a thousand tons. Her 
frame, all her hooks and pointers, and nearly all her knees, are of 
selected seasoned white oak; and her deep frames, ceiling, and flanking 
are of hard southern pine. She is strongly bolted with copper, and is, 
as a whole, the most substantially built vessel that has yet been pro- 
duced in America. All her accommodations are on the upper deck, 
leaving the hold entirely clear for the stowage of cargo. She has two 
spacious cabins built into a half-poop deck; a large house abaft the 
foremast for part of her crew, the galley, and other purposes; and a 
full topgallant forecastle; the space under which is also fitted for the 
accommodation of her crew. Her masts and yards are very stout, and 
strongly secured. Her bow terminates with the figure of a sea-god, half 
man and half fish, with a conch-shell raised to his mouth, as if blowing 
it. Mr. McKay, of Boston, has won a world-wide celebrity by the build- 
ing of these fleet clipper ships, which have, thus far, outdistanced 
everything of the kind in the world." 

The Sovereign of the Seas was built by Donald McKay on specu- 
lation, and was, according to the Boston Daily Atlas, "his idea of clip- 
per perfection." This newspaper said, in part: 

"So perfectly true are her proportions, that, notwithstanding her 
vast size, there are many freighting ships of half her register, that loom 
larger to the eye. 

"At four hundred yards' distance, she does not appear to be larger 
than 7 or 800 tons. She had been inspected by nautical men from all 
parts of the country, and we believe, has been the object of unqualified 
admiration. There are doubtless many ships more tastefully orna- 
mented with carving, gilding and other excrescences; but for beauty 
of model, strength of construction and completeness of equipment aloft, 
she has no superior. It is but reasonable to presume that, with a fair 
chance, she will make the quickest voyage ever performed under 
canvas. We consider her not only an honor to her enterprising builder, 
but to the country at large. Americans on distant seas may refer to her 
with national pride, and challenge a comparison from the commercial 
navies of the world. She is well named the Sovereign of the Seas." 

Soon after her launch, the new ship was purchased by Andrew F. 
Meinke of the firm Funch & Meinke, ship brokers of New York, and 


placed under the competent command of Donald McKay's brother, 
Captain Lauchlan McKay, who was not only a master mariner but 
(fortunately — as subsequent events proved) a master shipwright as 
well. He had served his apprenticeship in the yards of Isaac Webb 
where he learned, side by side with his brother Donald, the art of 
building a ship; he served four years as carpenter on board the U. S. 
frigate Constellation; in 1839 he published a work on naval architec- 
ture; and, in 1846, helped to build the barque Odd Fellow, his first 
command. From thence he progressed to the captaincy of the Donald 
McKay packet ship Jenny hind, and, at the age of forty-one, was given 
command of the Sovereign of the Seas. 

On August 4, 1852, with nearly 3,000 tons of merchandise in her 
hold, a large crew composed of 105 carefully picked men — four mates, 
two boatswains, two carpenters, two sailmakers, three stewards, two 
cooks, eighty able-bodied seamen, and ten boys — and twenty-one pas- 
sengers, the Sovereign sailed out of New York, on her maiden voyage 
to San Francisco. It was a bad time of the year for a quick passage, but 
Captain McKay was furnished with Lieutenant Maury's wind and cur- 
rent charts, together with the assurance that, if directions were fol- 
lowed, the run could be made in 83 days to the Pacific Equator, 103 
days to San Francisco. The Sovereign made the passage within the 
specified time, but in the following fashion: 

25 days from Sandy Hook: Crossed the Line. Head winds all the 
way. Best sailing time ever made by a sailing ship in August. 

Off Falkland Islands: Encountered tremendous seas and strong 
southwest gales. Carried a press of sail. Beat her way to the Horn 
through furious snow squalls and icy rains. Men provided with 
hot tea day and night, and stoves, fired constantly, before which 
to dry their wet and frozen garments. Ship never once missed 
stays, but the wind, blowing with almost unconceivable fury, con- 
stantly threatened to tear down the rigid sails and the bending 
masts. No one ill or disabled. 

51 days out: Doubled Cape Horn. Four days of calm. Then head- 
winds, calms and gales by turns. 


68 days out: Latitude of Valparaiso. In a heavy gale, the backstays 
of the main topmast loosened, caused by the settling of the cross- 
trees, and the gale, at last having found a weak spot in an adversary 
that obstinately refused to furl her banners, took full advantage 
of its opportunity to snatch away the maintopmast, foretopsail 
yard, and mizzen topgallant mast, and to rip every stitch of canvas 
from the foremast. 

80 days out: Ship completely re-rigged — nothing lost, thanks to 
Captain McKay's superhuman efforts and skill as a carpenter. By 
sunset of her 69th day out the wreck was completely cleared and 
the ship was making 12 knots an hour under mainsail, crossjack 
course, and mizzen topsail. Within the following eleven days — 
the crew working day and night, and with a will — sails were re- 
paired, masts made and fitted, and the ship was once more back 
in the same shipshape order as she was the day she departed from 
Sandy Hook. 

83 days out: Crossed Pacific Equator. 

103 days out (November 15, 1852): Arrived at San Francisco. Best 
day's run, 368 miles. Best speed, 17 knots. 

The western city, then as clipper-mad as it was gold-crazy, greeted 
the Sovereign with unbounded enthusiasm. The sailors shared a thou- 
sand-dollar bonus, gift of the owners, and the majority skipped off to 
the haunts of the town to spend it. The ship was in port until the 22nd 
of December, and then departed for Honolulu to load 8,000 barrels of 
whale oil for New York. There were then but 45 men aboard, a small 
passenger list, and a light cargo which consisted principally of two live 
bears, a leopard, and several other wild animals destined for the Crystal 
Palace Exhibition in New York. On Christmas Day the barometer 
fell and the rising wind sent the lightly laden ship over on her beam 
ends, burying her lee rail under water. She traveled fast, but when she 
reached port the crew traveled faster, so that when she sailed out again 
— having first been visited by the Hawaiian King and his entourage — 
she had a new crew of but 34 men before the mast. With "the fore and 
main topmasts crippled ; the fore topmast sprung in two places and the 
main topmast tender," she nevertheless reached New York in the un- 


precedented time of 82 days from Honolulu, having covered 5,142 
miles, on part of the journey, at an average rate of 378 miles a day for 
four consecutive days, and an average of 330 miles a day for eleven con- 
secutive days. On March 18 she made the remarkable run of 421 nauti- 
cal miles (484.8 statute miles) in 24 hours, tearing along with the wind 
on the larboard quarter — sometimes smacking the troubled seas into 
towering fountains of spray, and sometimes swiftly riding with the 
quiet ease of a breeze-borne feather. 

During her nine months' voyage from New York and back again, 
the Sovereign's earnings amounted to $138,000 — a small fact which 
would seem to disprove the assertion that clipper ships were built for 
speed alone. The sums that made up the total were: $98,000 freight 
money for the passage from New York to San Francisco; $10,000 for 
the run from San Francisco to Honolulu; and $30,000 for the voyage 
home. For the skill which Captain McKay had displayed in refitting 
his ship at sea on the outward passage, he was presented, by the New 
York underwriters, with a silver breakfast service of seven pieces. The 
Boston underwriters gave him a silver pitcher and gave a gold bracelet 
to Mrs. McKay. 

On June 18, 1853, the Sovereign sailed from New York to Liver- 
pool with Donald McKay and his wife among the passengers. In spite 
of the fact that the ship was drawing 22% feet of water and was badly 
laden, she led the steamship Canada by 325 miles at the end of the 
first five days, logged a day's run of 340 miles (against the Canada's 
best showing of 306 miles), and reached Liverpool in the unprecedentd 
sailing-ship time of 13 days 22 hours 50 minutes. The Canada had, 
however, put into port two days before, having had the better of it 
during the last eight days of the passage. 

At Liverpool the Sovereign was chartered by James Baines & Co.'s 
Black Ball Line for a passage to Melbourne, advertising freight rates 
at £7 P er ton to tne wharf — with a return of 50s. per ton if she failed 
to make the passage faster than any steamer on the berth. Within a 
short time the newspapers broke out with brief notices, such as: "The 


Great Britain sailed on the 10th ult. [August] for Melbourne. Bets 
were taken that the Sovereign of the Seas will outsail her, and that the 
Great Britain will not make the passage out under 60 days" ; and "The 
British iron clipper ship Gauntlet, of 693 tons, sailed from Gravesend 
on the 4th ult. [September] for Australia and is to compete with the 
American clipper Sovereign of the Seas." In America, Harper's New 
Monthly Magazine ran the following notice: 

"In British waters it would seem that American craft have lost some- 
what of the prestige which the 'America' gave two years ago. An 
American yacht has been beaten in Southampton waters, and to make 
matters worse, our steamers have met with such mishaps to machinery, 
as have again put the Cunarders on the front list. There is nothing to 
be done, but to put new zeal to the work, and to equip our hulls with 
the strong engines they make at Glasgow. It is to be observed, however, 
that while the 'Silvie' was losing ground at Spithead, an American 
clipper ship, the 'Sovereign of the Seas,' was loading in an English port, 
under English charter, with the most valuable cargo ever freighted 
upon a single merchantman, bound for the English ports of Australia." 

As a matter of fact the Sovereign, sailing from Liverpool on Sep- 
tember 7, 1853, under the command of Captain Warner (Captain 
McKay having returned to Boston to superintend the construction of 
Donald McKay's Great Republic), did outstrip everything that sailed 
about the same time; although, with a cargo valued at a million dollars 
and 64 passengers, she arrived at Melbourne at the end of a long pas- 
sage of 78 days. She was, however, loaded down to 23% feet and 
sailed 35 days under sky sails. A further handicap was an insufficiently 
clothed and pardy disabled crew. Her two most favorable runs were: 
1,275 m iles in four consecutive days, and 3,315 miles in twelve con- 
secutive days. 

She departed again for London on January 23, 1854, with over four 
tons of gold-dust aboard and arrived, at the end of 68 days, with a 
story of a mutiny that started as the result of a quarrel between one of 
the steerage passengers and a member of the crew and was quelled 
only after both passengers and officers joined the general melee, and, 


with flashing knives, guns, and pistols, got the ringleaders in irons 
and the others under control. 

At the end of this voyage the Sovereign was purchased by J. C. 
Godeffroy and Son, of Hamburg, who sent her to Sydney under the 
command of Captain Miiller. She arrived out October 22, 1854, in the 
slow time of 84 days — having been stripped of her topmasts near the 
Horn and consequently losing precious time while repairs were being 

In spite of the fact that Captain Miiller contended that the Sovereign 
made a 24-hour run of 410 miles and at times logged 22 knots (if true, 
this is better than the James Baines's record of 21 knots), her fast- 
sailing days were numbered, and during the following* years, during 
which she was engaged in more' or less general trade under the Ger- 
man flag, she was never again associated with those dashing passages 
which had once lent a ring of sincerity to her name. From Sydney she 
went to China, ran aground near Woosung, and was floated off and 
repaired; and from Shanghai she went to Liverpool with most of her 
crew down with cholera and only thirteen or fourteen men well enough 
to get her there. 

Her subsequent career is somewhat. fogged. In 1858 she was reported 
to have been repaired at a cost of $12,000 and sold to a British firm 
for $40,000. This report has never been verified but the amounts quoted 
seem to lend credibility to the story. And then clearly enough, through 
the fog, comes the news of her end. On August 6, 1859, bound for 
China from Hamburg, she ran ashore on the Pyramid Shoals in the 
Straits of Malacca, and what was left of her strength and vigor only 
helped her to pound out her heart on the treacherous reefs. The Ameri- 
can ship Eloisa was employed to pick up the pieces. 




East Boston 



Register 2,403 tons 
Length on load-line 231 1/2 leet 
Beam, moulded 43 1/3 feet 
Depth moulded 261/4 feet 
Coefficient of 0-52 
Coefficient of load-line 0-60 
Coefficient of midship section 84 


California Clipper 


1 he demand for ships of the clipper mould continued without abate- 
ment all through 1852, and, at the end of the twelve months, more 
than seventy new, lustrous-hulled, taunt-sparred, canvas-clouded ships 
— the products of yards from Bath to Baltimore — were dotting the 
lanes and harbors of trade like so many mythological creatures — half- 
bird, half -fish: the breed still novel enough to excite attention around 
the world: their rival performances to California not only without 
parallel in their appeal to the sporting blood of the day, but also strong 
enough to cause a missionary in the East to write that "with each 
returning spring we read of the splendid races of the clippers from 
China, a grand and exhilarating contest over an ocean track from 
one to the other side of the globe, compared with which the strifes 
between the youths of rival universities in England and America look 
like child's play." 

Two months after the Sovereign of the Seas was launched, Donald 
McKay put the finishing touches to the Westward Ho, and one month 
later the Bald Eagle, destined for Philip Dumaresq, "Prince of Cap- 
tains," was launched. Duncan McLean wrote, in the Boston Atlas, of 
the latter ship: "In model she differs widely from anything we have 
inspected. The rise and form of her floor are designed to obtain the 
greatest possible buoyancy consistent with stability and weatherly quali- 
ties She is fuller aft than forward, upon the principle that, when 

passing rapidly through the water, she will be liable to settle aft, hence 

the fullness of the lines to buoy her up; and also, that the pressure 


Westward Ho 



of the water, as it closes aft, will actually force her ahead, and leave 
her without a ripple." Just one month before, in September, William 
H. Webb — McKay's great rival — launched one of the sharpest vessels 
ever built at New York. This was the Flying Dutchman, whose lines, 
considered faultless in her day, are reproduced at the end of this 

Webb also built the Australia that year; and George Raynes, whose 
name is probably best known for its association with the famous Witch 
of the Wave, completed the extreme clipper Tinqua and the medium 
clipper Fleetwood. The Briggs Brothers modeled a new ship after the 
Northern Light, and named her the Meteor. They built the Winged 
Arrow also: a ship so pleasing to her owners that, in the following year, 
her twin — the John Land — was built to order for the same people. 
Paul Curtis, of Medford, built the clippers Beverly, Golden West, 
Queen of the Seas, and Golden Fleece. 

From the yards of Jacob Westervelt, where the frames of the TV. B. 
Palmer had risen into place the year before, were launched the Con- 
test and that rakish little gem Golden City, the latter ship one of the 
few fitted with Cunningham rolling topsails. Samuel Hall built the 
medium clippers Flying Childers, John Gilpin, and the Gilpin's sister 
ship Polynesia, whose whole life, up to and including the day in 1862 
when her crew maliciously set her afire in San Francisco harbor, was 
a series of mishaps and misadventures. Jacob Bell, whose White Squall 
in 1850 and Trade Wind in 1851 followed in the footsteps of the 
Oriental in keeping his name to the fore among master builders, com- 
pleted one of those very extreme clipper ships — the Messenger — whose 
actual carrying capacity of dead weight fell more than one hundred 
tons short of her register, but whose performances made her a favorite 
ship for twenty-seven years and earned her the right to be termed "a 
credit to her builder." 

Of the seventeen new ships mentioned, thirteen were launched, 
fitted out, and loaded too late to complete their San Francisco passages 
within the year. Among these latter vessels was the Westward Ho: 



a ship of superbly tailored lines built by McKay for Sampson & Tappan, 
and launched on the 24th of September. She was somewhat beamier 
than most of the McKay vessels built up to that time, with masts less 
tall and less rakish, and yards more square. Her ends were very sharp 
and her lines slightly concave. Practically no ornamentation, save for 
the figurehead of an Indian warrior mounted on a flowered pedestal, 
interrupted the gently melting swell of her strong, sure lines. She meas- 
ured: length on keel, 194 feet; length on deck, 210 feet; length over 
all, 220 feet; extreme breadth of beam, which was about 12 feet 
forward of amidships, 40 feet 6 inches; depth of hold, 23 feet 6 inches; 
dead-rise at half-floor, 20 inches; tons, 1,650. Her first commander 
was Captain Joseph P. Johnson, although she was originally intended 
for Captain Edward Nickels of the Flying Fish. 

She left Boston on October 16 practically in the wake of the Flying 
Dutchman, which had taken her departure from New York the day 

The two ships were around the Horn and working their way upward 
in the Pacific (at that time the Flying Fish was somewhere in the 
vicinity tearing along toward her victory over the John Gilpin, Wild 
Pigeon, and Trade Wind) when the last few stragglers of the year 
put into San Francisco harbor and brought to a close the clipper pas- 
sages of 1852. The following is a list of ships that made the run in 
no days or under: 



Date and Port of Departure 




New York — November- 



Flying Fish 


Boston — November- 





Boston — May - 





New York — October - 



Sovereign of the Seas 


New York — August - 



John Bertram 


Boston — December- 



Shooting Star 


Boston — May - 





New York — November- 





Boston — January - 





New York — January - 



Sea Witch 


New York — August 




Wild Pigeon 996 New York — October — 1851 109 

Northern Light 1,021 Boston — November — 1851 no 

White Squall 1,119 New York — April — 1852 no 

The record passages established during 1852 were: Eclipse, New 
York to Valparaiso, 62 days; Hurricane, Rio to San Francisco, 6y days; 
Staffordshire, Saugor to Boston, 82 days; Challenge, Hongkong to 
San Francisco, 33 days; Grey Eagle, Rio to the Delaware Capes, 23 
days; Flying Cloud, San Francisco to meridian of Honolulu, 8^2 days; 
Challenge, Anjiei to London, 65 days; Beverly, Boston to Calcutta 
pilot, 85 days i6 x / 2 hours; and the Courser from the Cape of Good 
Hope to New York, 38 days. 

The first ship to arrive at San Francisco in 1853 reporting a passage 
of less than 112 days was the Flying Dutchman, which had succeeded 
both in beating the Westward Ho by two days across the Pacific Line 
and in gradually increasing her lead for the rest of the way. She arrived 
on January 27, some hours under 104 days. At the tail end of the 
month the Westward Ho and the Flying Fish sailed in, almost to- 
gether. The former, hove to off the Heads for four days in fogs and 
calms, reported 107 days on the passage, 103 net sailing days. The latter 
was fresh from the magnificent passage of 92 days 4 hours, port to 

From San Francisco the Westward Ho made a dashing 39-day run 
to Manila, beating the Flying Fish into port by one day. She stayed 
there for three weeks, then made the slow time of 29 days to Batavia 
against the monsoon. On her return passage to New York she struck 
a bad squall off the Cape of Good Hope, losing her jib-boom. She 
touched at St. Helena, and from thence was 35 days to New York. 
The passage from Batavia was made in 82 days. In 1853-4 sne ma ^e 
her New York to San Francisco passage, commanded by Captain 
Hussey, in 105 days, thence to Calcutta in 87 days, and 103 days back 
to Boston. 

Toward the end of 1854 sne starte d out on one °f th e best passages 
of her career — 100 days 18 hours from Boston Light to San Francisco, 
beating the Neptune's Car — out of New York — by 5V2 hours on the 


way. The victory was hotly contested by both ships (the Neptune's 
Car claiming* the match because of her port of departure) ; so it was 
decided to continue racing for so long as the two ships remained to- 
gether. The newspapers took up the story, and it would have been 
interesting to see the outcome of an around-the- world clipper classic; 
but a London charter for Captain Patten of the Car and another port 
of call for the Ho decided otherwise. On the passage from San Fran- 
cisco to Hongkong the two fast ships, like a pair of streamlined turdes, 
virtually crawled all the way, Neptune's Car taking 50 days and the 
Westward Ho an additional eleven. The former ship loaded at Foo- 
chow for London, while the latter, apparendy in disgrace for the whip- 
ping she had taken, was engaged to transport a cargo of coolies to the 
Chincha Islands guano deposits : that trade which served (as much as 
anything) to muddy Anglo-American dealings with China. 

Late in the 1850's the Chinese in California drew up a "Remon- 
strance" dealing with abuses they had suffered and appealing to the 
Congress of the United States to come to their aid in rectifying the 
wrongs of the traffic and also the wrongs they had suffered under 
provincial state legislation; but little attention seems to have been paid 
to the document, and the trade continued uncontrolled for many years 
thereafter. Back in 1854 this passenger-carrying service between Hong- 
kong and California reached such great heights that nearly every avail- 
able ship was eagerly snapped up for the purpose: $90,000 was paid 
for Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co.'s old receiving hulk Bomanjee 
Hormusjee, and similar exorbitant prices were paid for numerous 
other vessels, regardless of their seaworthiness. At about the same time 
Chinese miners, returning to Canton and Macao from California, had 
wild stories to tell about gold discoveries made by their people, and 
this induced hundreds of others to sell their little shops and farms, or 
to borrow money, for the passage. Their woes upon arrival, however, 
were blessings in disguise compared with those that lay in wait for 
their less fortunate brethren brought by the thousands to Macao, 
Amoy, and Swatow by native crimps and sold outright to Spanish, 


Portuguese, and South American speculators for shipment to the West 
Indies and Peru. 

It is said that the coolie trade between South America and China 
began in 1850, but as early as 1847 the Portuguese ship Dom Pedro 
carried 300 coolies to Peru, where they were contracted for, for five 
years, and placed on a plantation near Callao. The trade increased 
rapidly and, as demands increased also, the regions, particularly around 
Amoy, were placarded with invitations for Chinese to engage in sugar- 
planting or as shepherds and laborers, for from five to eight years. 
The inducements offered were four dollars a month, two suits of 
clothes, free medical attendance, fixed allowances of food, land to cul- 
tivate for themselves, Sunday as a day of rest, free passage for wives 
and children, and permission to be released from their contracts in a 
year if desired. Since there was no truth in the offers and the facts 
eventually leaked out, volunteers ceased to exist, and the coolies that 
made up cargoes to the Chinchas and the West Indies were selected 
from three classes: prisoners taken in clan fights and sold, by their 
captors, to Chinese and Portuguese buyers at from seven to ten dollars 
a head; villagers or fishermen kidnaped by half-castes who skulked 
along the coast in lorchas; and individuals tempted to gamble, and 
forced to surrender their persons to pay for their losses. They were 
then placed in barracoons, or "pig-pens" as they were commonly 
called, and disposed of in batches. Their entire cost, including head- 
money, working expenses, freight charges and insurance, was about 
$200 each; and they were sold, upon arrival at their destination, at 
an average profit of $150 a head. It is stated that close to a million 
coolies were taken out of China in this fashion. Between the years 1847 
and 1870, exclusive of those who died or were destroyed on the outward 
passage, some 130,000 were shipped to Cuba, 200,000 to Peru, and 
50,000 to Australia, Java, the Sandwich Islands, and elsewhere. 

Great preparations were made aboard ship to receive a cargo of 
coolies. Tier on tier of sleeping shelves was erected down the whole 
length of the two lower decks, the hatchways were covered with iron 
gratings, a barricade was built on the spar deck for the convenience 


of an armed guard, and quantities of rice, pork, and beef were stowed 
away. The coolies were brought to the ship in sampans and stowed in 
by the hundreds. 

There is no chapter in all sea history so sickening as that of the 
coolie trade, no scenes so truly horrible as those caused by mutinies on 
the part of the living cargo or by pirates, who suffered themselves to 
be taken aboard ship and who attempted to pay back a portion of the 
Chinese debt of vengeance. 

Three fragments of the entire story will serve to pin down the whole. 
In 1855 the captain of the Waverly died of dysentery; and, when the 
mate attempted to lower the body into a boat for burial at Manila, 
the Chinese for some reason interfered. The mate shot down one of 
the men and the crew drove the rest below and battened down the 
hatches. The following morning, when the hatches were opened again, 
two hundred and fifty-one coolies were dead of suffocation. Two years 
later an officer of the Kate Hooper, a beautiful clipper ship owned and 
built in Baltimore, shot down four Chinese and hanged one, after the 
ship had been set afire in three places. And in 1866 the captain of the 
Napoleon Carnavero, once the beautiful American-owned clipper 
White Falcon, forced his Chinese passengers below, when they became 
rebellious, and secured the hatches. The coolies, rather than be suffo- 
cated, set fire to the ship, but the crew, unable to extinguish the flames, 
made off in the boats. The hatches were never opened. 

On the 4th of January, 1854, Sir Samuel G. Bonham, Governor of 
Hongkong, took it upon himself to regulate coolie emigration from 
that port, and, in September, a Proclamation appeared in the Govern- 
ment Gazette declaring it illegal for British ships to engage in the 
coolie trade to the Chincha Islands. In consequence the bulk of ship- 
ments were made from Swatow, a port not open to foreign trade at 
that time and therefore free from constituted authority. 

It was to Swatow then that the Westward Ho sailed — together with 
the Winged Racer, another clipper owned by Sampson & Tappan, 
and also in need of cargo — after her slow run from San Francisco to 
Hongkong. It was stated that Captain Gorham of the Winged Racer, 


finding his cargo of 700 coolies in a mutinous state, flogged sixty in 
one morning. When this news leaked back to Boston, it caused a little 
scandal in that city and elicited the report from Sampson & Tappan 
that they had written to both the Westward Ho and the Winged Racer 
forbidding them to take coolies to the guano islands, and countermand- 
ing their order to take coolies on board ship at all. The two ships 
were loaded, however, and sailed : the Ho arriving at Callao on Feb- 
ruary 4 and the Racer on March 19. At this spot their cargoes disem- 
barked for the Chinchas — to begin work under the lash of a negro 
master, to drop dead of starvation and pain in the ammonia-impreg- 
nated air, or to commit suicide, as three hundred and forty-two of them 
did one day in 1856, by joining hands and quiedy walking into the 

The Westward Ho shot back to New York for one more passage to 
San Francisco. Departing from New York on December 16, 1856, 
and arriving at the Golden Gate on May 26, 1857, she duplicated her 
1854 passage of 100 days. Thence she proceeded once more to 
Callao, commanded on the passage by Captain Jones, and was sold 
upon arrival to Don Juan de Ugarte of Lima. Under the Peruvian flag, 
still as the Westward Ho, she made a 61 -day passage to Hongkong 
and picked up a cargo of coolies for Havana. Thereafter she operated 
only between China and Peru. On February 27, 1864, she caught fire 
while at anchor in the harbor of Callao, and sank at her moorings. 

Clipper Ship 


18 52 
Built at New York 

William H. Webb 

Drawn from Webb's plan 

lengthon deck 190 feet, beam moulded 37 feet, depth of hold 

21 feet 6 inches, tonnage cm. 1475 tons. 

Had two decks with half poop deck cabin ex- 
tending nearly to main mast 


California Clipper 

he Young America, next to the last of the extreme clippers built 
by William H. Webb, was one of nearly 120 fast sailing ships launched 
during 1853 and flung into the race into which was now creeping, as 
a new contestant, the shadowy specter of glutted markets : that succu- 
bus which the clipper ships themselves had fostered and fed until its 
vast proportions reached out to greet them from every familiar shore, 
and which was, in time, to defeat them in the one race they were to 
lose, paradoxically enough, because of their very speed. 

The opening months of the year, however, found the United States 
in the most prosperous of conditions, with freight rates booming and 
an unlimited number of persons more than eager to buy shares in any 
fast sailing ship destined for California. One by one they were launched, 
and one by one — or even two by two, three by three, and four by 
four — they took their departure from New York, Boston, and Phila- 
delphia. In January nineteen trim clippers sailed from Atlantic ports 
for the Golden Gate, followed by seventeen more in February, twelve 
in March, fourteen in April, and twelve in May; and the crowds at 
the wharves, to whom "favoring winds" and "fabulous returns" were 
synonymous phrases, saw nothing more ominous, as the ships payed 
off and dipped their ensigns in parting, than the dark shadows that 
lay like bruises across the white expanse of an indolent sail. 

No net of words, today, can capture more than a tidie of the butter- 
fly beauty of those ships of 1853. No fewer than eighteen of them 

were extreme in conception: a breed that was to expend itself in die 



great races of the year and to vanish forever on the receding waters 
of trade. In model, the majority were very sharp-ended, with sides 
slowly melting from slightly concave below to convex above; with 
the sheei line lively and rising upward with a spring to from 2 to 4% 
feet; with heavy spars, though not always so lofty as formerly; and 
with — so far as available figures show — the past prejudice in favor 
of the old, sharp frigate-bottom mellowed down to a preference for a 
rise in floor of twenty-seven inches or under. 

In January, over a seven-day period, six clippers and medium clip- 
pers were launched; of these, the first to leave the ways was the Golden 
Light, built at the yards of the Briggs Brothers and destined to be de- 
stroyed by lightning and fire ten days after she took her departure 
from Boston on her maiden voyage to San Francisco. A few days after 
her launch she was followed by Samuel Hall's Mystery, which in turn 
was followed, almost immediately, by the Baltimore-built Frigate Bird 
and the Highflyer — a medium clipper built by Currier & Townsend, 
at Newburyport, for the New York to Liverpool Red Cross Line of 
Packets. The fifth ship was Donald McKay's Empress of the Seas; and 
the sixth, the Westervelt-built Resolute. 

The impudently moulded little Belle of the West, built by Shiverick 
Bros, of East Dennis, Massachusetts, designed by Pook, and always 
a joyfully welcomed visitor to the Western Coast, went down the ways 
on March 25; and, the following day, no fewer than six new clippers 
cleaved Massachusetts waters for the first time. These were: the Mis- 
chief, built by Hood, and said to have had the sharpest ends ever put 
on a clipper; the Queen of Clippers, built by Robert E. Jackson; Joshua 
Foster's West Wind; McKay's Star of Empire; the E. & H. O. Briggs's 
John Land; and the beautifully proportioned White Swallow, from 
the yards of Hayden & Cudworth. Two days later another new Hayden 
& Cudworth ship, the Climax, sailed for California, rigged in a fashion 
that not only was to become extremely popular later, but that also 
enabled a ship to carry a gready reduced crew. She had double top- 
sails, an adaptation of and improvement on the Forbes rig — the inven- 
tion of Captain Frederick Howes, her commander. 

Young ^America 


April saw the launching of two very fine clippers from two Ports- 
mouth yards : the Wild Duc\, the fifteenth creation of George Raynes 
of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the Neptune's Car, by Page & 
Allen of Portsmouth, Virginia. Donald McKay was again represented 
— this time by the Chariot of Fame, sister ship of the Star of Empire; 
and J. O. Curtis, of Medford, launched the Wild Ranger. On the 
very last day of the month, in New York City, Abraham C. Bell, son 
of Jacob Bell, launched the North Wind, his first complete production; 
and the workmen at the yards of William H. Webb gathered to knock 
away the shores from under the keel of the Young America. 

The Young America is frequently referred to as Webb's master- 
piece, and the tendency to consider her so is more than justified by her 
long record of passages made, nearly always, at a more than average 
high rate of speed; by a powerful endurance that left her life singu- 
larly unmarred by the usual tales of smashed spars and damaged steer- 
ing gear; and by years of service that rivaled in number those of the 
clipper ships Game Coc\, John Bertram, Sea Serpent, N. B. Palmer, 
Nightingale, and many others whose careers extended over a period 
of thirty years and more. 

In model she was both sharp and buoyant, with hollow lines and 
rounding sides, elliptical and graceful stern, no figurehead, but a billet 
substituting, and little ornamentation save for some national emblems 
carved on her trail-boards. She was powerfully constructed at the rather 
high cost of $140,000, was particularly handsomely furnished inside 
for passengers, and heavily rigged. She had three decks, and measured: 
239 feet 6 inches on the keel; 243 feet over-all; 43 feet 2 inches breadth 
of beam; 26 feet 9 inches depth of hold; 22 feet draught; 20 inches 
dead-rise; 1,961 tons register. She was first owned by George B. Daniels 
of New York City, whose house-flag was crimson bordered with white, 
with a white D in the center. 

Before she loaded for California, a trio of new clippers was launched: 
the Bonita, designed by and for Captain James Huckins and built by 
E. & H. O. Briggs; the Water Witch, built by Fernald & Pettigrew 
under the superintendence of Captain Benjamin Tay; and the extreme 


clipper Flyaway, also from Webb's yard. Of these ships the Bonita 
seems to have been the most fortunate in procuring a cargo, since she 
sailed within eleven days of the Young America and in company with 
the Wild Ranger — the latter the only ship launched in April to take 
her departure for California before the month of July. The Chariot of 
Fame, happily destined to become a favorite packet of the Enoch Train 
Line, sailed to Liverpool ; but the Neptune's Car — one of the first clip- 
pers to feel the effects of the overstuffing of California markets — was 
forced to make a round to England on her maiden run. The large 
2,361-ton Queen of Clippers, launched on the 26th of March and pur- 
chased by Zerega & Co. of New York for $135,000, did not get away 
until June 30, nor does her $65,000 freight list appear quite so favor- 
able as the $86,400 freight list of the Young America. 

The Young America took her departure from New York City on 
June 10, without having made a match to race the Sovereign of the 
Seas to San Francisco for a $20,000 purse: a little matter of clipper-ship 
betting over which there seems to have been some irritation — the 
McKay faction accusing Webb's followers of inserting a challenge in 
the New York papers (for selfish reasons) to the effect that the Sov- 
ereign would sail to San Francisco against any ship in the world for the 
sum of $10,000; and the Webb faction, accepting the article in good 
faith, believing that the "challenge to the world" was meant to be 
interpreted as a "challenge to Webb." The Sovereign of the Seas, 
flushed with victory, was recently home from her notable maiden voy- 
age at the time and, in due course, Webb challenged her to a match 
with the Young America. The Sovereigns owners, however, denied 
any knowledge of the bet, and, as will be remembered, their ship was 
thence routed to Liverpool. But the challenges continued, and in Sep- 
tember, 1853, Gleason's — in a manner calculated to irritate New 
Yorkers, the British, Mr. Webb, and a few other builders — concluded 
an article devoted to the Sovereign of the Seas by saying that "Mr. 
McKay, of Boston, has won a world-wide celebrity by the building 
of these fleet clipper ships, which have, thus far, distanced everything 
of the kind in the world. Even the fastest ocean steamers cannot hold 


way with them, and the captain of the clipper which we herewith 
represent, offered an immense sum of money, which he was ready and 
willing to give security for, that he could sail from Liverpool to Aus- 
tralia quicker than any steamer could perform the distance, which was 
then in the port of Liverpool, nor could any party be found willing to 
accept the wager." 

The Young America arrived at San Francisco on September 29, 
the same day as the fiery little Belle of the West, Captain Howes, out 
of Boston the 21st of May. The Young America was commanded by 
Captain David S. Babcock, formerly of the Swordfish and later presi- 
dent of the Pacific Mail Steamship Co.; and carried a complement 
of seventy-five men, including four officers. Her time of no days was 
not exactly noteworthy for any surprising bursts of speed, but it is sig- 
nificant that she passed seven clippers — five of which had sailed in 
May — and outsailed four more that cleared from Atlantic ports within 
eleven days of her own departure. During the long years of her career, 
she carried cargoes from New York to San Francisco twenty times 
at an average of 118 days per passage — a remarkable achievement, all 
things taken into account, including her age at the time some of her 
best passages were made and the fact that for the last twenty-six years 
of her life she was fitted with double topsails and carried considerably 
shortened spars. 

From San Francisco she usually went to Honolulu, Hongkong, or 
Manila; but in 1856, instead of returning to New York as was her 
custom, she picked up a cargo of coolies in China and took them to 
Melbourne. From Melbourne she went to Singapore and, continuing, 
made stops at Rangoon, Mauritius, Falmouth, Bremen, and Liverpool, 
loading at the last place for Melbourne once more. Two years and one 
month had passed by since the day she last left New York in 1856, 
and sixty-three more days were added to that, when she clewed up her 
sails in Australian waters at the end of a record passage from Liver- 
pool. The month of September, 1858, found her in Singapore once 
more, ready to sail. On October 5 she passed Anjier and 25 days later 


passed the Cape of Good Hope — a record, but not unprecedented. She 
was back in New York harbor in December. 

In i860 she changed ownership, her purchasers being Abram Bell's 
Sons, who sold her a few years later to Robert L. Taylor of New York. 
Before she was put back on the San Francisco run, in 1863-5, sne made 
a long passage to Melbourne, Callao, Liverpool, New York, and back 
to Liverpool; from Liverpool she went to Glasgow for a cargo of mer- 
chandise and live sheep for Oamaru, New Zealand, and arrived out 
February 2, 1862. In the spring of the year she was at Callao from 
New Zealand, whence she sailed on August 4 for Antwerp, but was 
forced to put into Plymouth, England, in distress, having lost her 
foretopmast and fore and main topgallant masts, and suffering other 
damages to her spars in a revolving storm. She was at New York on 
March 21, 1863, 32 days from Flushing, in ballast. 

In 1866 she was thoroughly overhauled and repaired at a cost of 
$40,000, having sprung a leak on her passage to the Golden Gate. 
Four years later she was sold to George Howes & Co. of New York 
and San Francisco, and the same year she made the California passage 
home in the magnificent time of 82 days, pilot to pilot — the record 
for a cargo-laden ship. The following year she repeated the perform- 
ance in 86 days — the second record for a cargo-laden ship. She was in 
fine feather during those years, like an old actress who, having won 
applause late in life, insists upon repeating the same performance over 
and over. In 1872, at Liverpool on October 12, she set sail again, crossed 
the Line 15 days 6 hours from her pilot — another record — rounded the 
Horn in fairly fast time, and anchored in San Francisco Bay on January 
20, 1873 — 99 days from Liverpool, 96 days from her pilot: a double, 
never-to-be-beaten record. 

The crowning achievement of her career was probably her passage 
from New York to San Francisco in 1880, made in 102% days. It was 
not a world-beater — five clippers had matched it prior to i860 and 
twenty-one had surpassed it — but, momentarily at least, it brought 
back a flood-tide of memories for a few aging people: of a floating 
parade of bodiless faces and blank-faced forms — guided by a Barnum 


of the brain-cells and viewed down the wrong end of the mist-covered 
telescope of the years: of young Jenny Lind and the charming Kate 
Hayes, of madcap Lola Montez and triumphant Edwin Forrest; of 
the Bateman children — girl-marvels — toy-sized Shakespearians; of 
scores of gamblers hunched around tables of faro, monte, and lansque- 
net; of shapeless clothes, whirling in the fandango and the samaseuca, 
with feet as light as those of a shapeless, garotted silhouette swinging 
against a torch-lit sky; of Kit Carson driving his sheep across the 
plains; of the Chilano women — superb on horseback; of waves of silent 
sound that spent themselves in soft fury within the ears : drum-beat of 
workmen's hammers, shriek of saws, staccato rip and snap of canvas 
and spars in Cape Horn weather, the tinkle of a dancehall piano, and 
the monotonous undertone shuffle-shuffle of sand in a miner's basin; 
the smell of salt and tar ; a backdrop of blue sky, and white sails that 
symbolized news from home and, suddenly clear, spodighted by the 
suns of twenty-seven years, the face of a man willing to bet ten thou- 
sand dollars on the single run of a ship. 

In 1880, for little more than that long-ago proffered wager, the 
Young America herself could have been purchased, and few of her 
contemporaries, not under alien flags, were left to think of her belated 
victory. Even then the old Game Coc\, bedraggled of feather, was 
being condemned at the Cape of Good Hope; the clipper ship Archer 
was foundering at sea, somewhere between New York and Havre; 
the Sovereign of the Seas was long since gone, and Donald McKay, 
who might have been interested, lay dying of consumption on his farm 
in Massachusetts. 

In 1882, after a passage the previous year from Antwerp to the 
Golden Gate, the Young America sailed from New York to Portland, 
Oregon. She arrived out February 5, 1883, and picked up a cargo of 
wheat, which she took to San Francisco. Sixty-two days after her de- 
parture from California she put into Rio, leaking, and, after under- 
going repairs, sailed for New York again. Shordy after that she was 
sold to Austria for $13,500 and, as the Miroslav, engaged in trans- 
atlantic trade for several years. In 1886 she vanished at sea. 




!- J# 

IftW ' 

Cupper. Ship 

Buiiyf af- NEV/YORKI CWY" 




length 2364 fee"t 
beam 42 feet 
hold 28* feet 
registered tons 1962 
tons cm. 25 OD 


California Clipper 

JLn June, 1853, a quartette of new clippers was launched for the Cali- 
fornia trade: the short-lived Matchless, from the yards of Isaac Taylor, 
of Chelsea; the shorter-lived Whistler, built by George W. Jackman, 
Jr., of Newburyport; the Flying Dragon, from the yards of Trufant 
& Drummond, of Bath, Maine; and the Sweepstakes, built by Daniel 
and Aaron Westervelt, sons of the builder of the N. B. Palmer. 

Of this group, the Sweepstakes was by far the largest, handsomest, 
and most fortunate, although, like the Matchless which struck a hur- 
ricane and sprang a leak two days out on her maiden voyage, she got 
off to a very bad start in life, which not only delayed her initial pas- 
sage but added $20,000 repair and expense cost to the sum already 
expended upon her by Chambers & Heiser, her owners. She was heavily 
sparred, with no nonsense about her save for a gold ribbon around her 
waist; she was built for speed, and looked it. She measured: length, 
216 feet 4 inches; over-all, 235 feet; breadth, 41 feet 6 inches; depth, 
22 feet; 1,735 tons register. Her master for the first four years of her 
career was Captain George E. Lane, who later went into steam and 
subsequently became agent for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company 
at Hongkong. 

The launch of the Sweepstakes on the 18th of June did not go 
smoothly. A large crowd had gathered as usual, but the big ship, in- 
stead of gliding rapidly to the waters and making her polite curtsy 
to the spectators, stopped half in and half out of the water as if not 

quite certain what to do. The crowd peered forward anxiously and, 



to their astonishment, the ship suddenly wheeled over, rammed the 
stagings of the clipper Kathay, then building, and forcibly launched 
some of the spectators instead. Two large derricks plus some seventy- 
six hours of difficult labor eventually got her afloat, and she was imme- 
diately taken to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for inspection. 

While she was undergoing repairs, disturbing news came north of 
yellow fever in New Orleans : of a city silent and terrified, with public 
places deserted, deaths occurring at the rate of four and five a day, and 
negroes, hired at $5 an hour and bribed with liquor, packing coffins 
on coffins into hastily cut graves. New York City paused for a moment 
to sympathize and express alarm — clipper ships were on the stocks 
that were soon to make New Orleans another port of call — and then 
forgot about it in haste to attend the Crystal Palace Exhibition, opened 
amid scenes of great splendor on July 14 by President Pierce. On the 
same day, in the Far East, Commodore Perry was steaming into the 
harbor of Yeddo and across the pages of history, prepared for his inter- 
view with the Commissioners who were to receive him in behalf of 
the Emperor of Japan. 

More clippers were launched in July, and in August a regular ava- 
lanche of new ones rushed down to the sea. It was sheer madness, of 
course: the signs of a coming depression were everywhere to be seen; 
ships were not sailing out so rapidly; cargoes were harder to get. But 
orders continued to pour in to the builders, and each new ship in the 
harbors won her share of comment. The dark green color of the Fear- 
less, designed by Pook, was unusual; she looked like a yacht. The 
Wizard, with her Oriental magician figurehead, was Samuel Hall's 
eighty-fourth production, built on his own account and considered his 
masterpiece. There were two Morning Lights — one the first produc- 
tion of Tobey & Littlefield, of Portsmouth; the other built by William 
Cramp near Philadelphia. The 1,375-ton Pampero, from the yards of 
Charles Mallory, was the largest ship built at Mystic up to that time. 
The Dashing Wave, built by Fernald & Pettigrew, had a square stern 
that distinguished her from other sharp ships. The Kathay proved 
stubborn at her launching, and it took eighty hours to get her off the 



stocks. And so on — until a dozen new ships took to the water, and 
September rolled around with six or seven more. 

A banquet was given aboard the Sweepstakes shortly before she 
sailed and Harpers New Monthly Magazine, after a paragraph about 
the new Prescott House, commented as follows: 

"Altogether kindred with these hotel palaces are the ocean palaces — 
the noble fleet of clippers and steamers which sail from our port. The 
latest, and therefore presumably the finest, of these clippers which has 
chanced to come under our personal inspection is the good ship Sweep- 
sta\es, bound for our Golden Empire on the Pacific coast. What 
impressed us most, beyond even her graceful model and trim rigging, 
beyond her stanch timbers and elegant cabins, was the comfortable 
and airy quarters provided for the crew, replacing the old forecasde, 
whose middle-passage horrors have tasked the pens of our nautical 
writers, from Dana to Melville. We are glad to see our merchant 
princes acting on the belief, that to secure good sailors, even at some 
additional expense of wages and accommodations, is better than to 
have a crew who can be kept to duty only by constant fear of the ropes- 
end and handspike. 'Here's hoping that the ship's all right, with a 
good captain and crew, and that she may have a fair wind, and no 
accident,' said a visitor on board. 'The ship is all right,' responded one 
of her owners, with modest confidence, 'and the captain is all right, and 
the crew shall be all right. It is our business to see to that; and we 
have done it. You needn't ask for anything but a fair wind and no 
accident.' Was not this spoken in the very spirit of Cromwell's 'Trust 
in the Lord, and keep your powder dry'?" 

The Sweepstakes was out of New York on September 3, with a 
$55,000 freight list, and riding deep in the water under a prosaic 
deck-load of heavy boilers. While she was at sea, struggling with head 
winds and delayed by light airs and calms, on the first leg of her pas- 
sage, her builders were engaged in Americanizing the British steamer 
Dee: putting on timbers from the wheelhouses to the bow to increase 
her length about thirty feet, and making her forepart sharp and clipper- 
like. As autumn moved on, however, such small crowing-points began 
to recede in importance as the world gave itself over to unassumed 


fear. The death toll was mounting with amazing rapidity. Before the 
end of summer, yellow fever had wiped out 6,442 people in New 
Orleans, at the rate of 250 a day, and word traveled northward that 
the pestilence was sweeping on toward Mobile. The ship Isaac Wright, 
at Boston from England, brought news of the cholera epidemic then 
sweeping throughout Holland, northern England, Liverpool, Ireland, 
and Russia. 

As for the passage of the Sweepstakes, it was attended by neither 
great fortune nor misfortune. On her forty-fourth day out she crossed 
the Line, and five days later had a slight collision with the Danish 
brig Gallentine, with damage to neither. Seventy-five days out she 
passed through the Straits of Le Maire, and twenty-five days later 
was at San Francisco. Her passage of 125 days was merely fair — but 
it was better by two days than those of three ships that had sailed within 
the following nine days of her. Thence she went to Hongkong and 
home in no days. 

In 1854-5 ner Passage to the western El Dorado was made in 117 
days, followed by a passage to Shanghai and to London. But in 1856 — 
February 20 to March 25 — she was in grand sailing shape, as evidenced 
by her passage of 95 days to San Francisco, anchor to anchor. It was 
the second best passage of the year, surpassed only by the Great Re- 
public. From San Francisco she went to Shanghai and home. 

Her fourth long voyage from New York, made from May 9 to 
July 22, 1857, was a record-smashing run of 74 days to Bombay — the 
fastest on record — and home again in the fine sailing time of 80 days. 
Then followed another passage out to San Francisco — this time in 105 
days — thence to Manila and home, arriving on June 12, i860. This 
was her last passage on the California run. On September 8, i860, 
she set out for Melbourne and, for the following two years, carried 
cargoes from that port to Hongkong, thence to Manila, back to Mel- 
bourne again, and thence to East Australia and to Adelaide. 

On February 4, 1862, she set out from Adelaide, in ballast, for 
Batavia on what was destined to be her last voyage, completed only at 
the price of her life. For ten hours she was ashore on the Strait of 


Sunda, receiving injuries that were to cripple her beyond reasonable 
repair and, when she finally limped into Batavia, her commander, 
Captain Magill, put her up for sale. She went, on May 13, to a buyer 
for 15,000 florins, and in this fashion her accounts with the sea and 
the world of ships were brought, prematurely, to a close. 


California Clipper 


ust as 1853, during that quarter-century that Captain Clark has 
termed "The Clipper Ship Era," surpassed all other years in the num- 
ber of sharp ships launched, and in the quality of their performance, 
so did the creation of the Great Republic stand for the summit of 
achievement in the world of sailing ships. She was, from the stand- 
point of size, handsome appearance, and money lavished upon her, 
exactly what Donald McKay had originally intended to name her: the 
King of Clippers. 

If there were ever a doubt in one's mind about the important part 
these remarkable ships played in the lives of the people of the middle 
nineteenth century, one has only to read contemporary accounts, and 
thus view the ships through the eyes of the people who knew them 
and who cannot therefore be blamed for having been confused by the 
perfumed graveyard sentiments that attach to things that are beyond 
recall. Today, history books dismiss the clippers with a line or two; 
but in their day — in many of the illustrated papers, at least — political 
notes, hangings, murders, war news from abroad, and social activi- 
ties were bunched into a single paragraph, while whole columns were 
given over to accounts of such ships as the Great Republic. 

In October, 1853, Gleason's said of her launch: 

"This triumph of marine architecture was launched from Mr. 
McKay's ship-yard in East Boston, at precisely twelve o'clock, on 

Tuesday the 4th inst. The ceremony of introducing the noble fabric 


Qreat 'Republic 



to her destined home occurred in the presence of an immense crowd of 
spectators, and she passed to her mission on the deep amid the crash 
of cannon and the cheers of the people. Visitors were in town from 
the back country, and from along the coast, to witness the launch, 
particularly from Cape Cod, delegations from which arrived by the 
morning trains. The wharves on both sides the stream, where a view 
was attainable, were thronged with people. Men, women and children 
vied in interest to get a look; and boys and men clung like spiders 
to the rigging of the ships, and the sides and roofs of stores and houses, 
to get a glance at the magnificent vessel. Captain Alden Gifford chris- 
tened her in pure Cochituate water, the great republic, as she left 
her cradle and took to her watery bed. The Great Republic is one of the 
most beautiful crafts that ever floated. She is 325 feet long, 53 feet wide, 
her depth 37 feet, and her capacity 4000 tons — the largest merchant 
ship, probably, that ever tasted salt water. The Great Republic thus 
stands in the front of the ships as the great republic she was named for 
does in the front of the nations, and we hope her prosperity may be 
in an equal degree with that of her great namesake." 

A detailed description of the ship herself appeared in the same pub- 
lication one week later: 

"Last week we gave a representation of the launch of this leviathan, 
and in the present number we present to our readers, on page 281, 
a large and accurate engraving of this seventh wonder of the world, 
fully rigged, the largest, sharpest and most magnificent ship that has 
ever been produced by any age or nation. She is 325 feet long, has 53 
feet extreme breadth of beam, and 38 feet depth of hold, with four 
complete decks fore and aft, and she will stow over 6000 tons of cargo. 
She is much sharper than any ship or ocean steamer, and is designed 
to outsail everything upon the 'world of waters.' Her forefoot, instead 
of being angular, like that of other ships, rises from a straight line, 
and forms the arc of a circle; and the rise and surface of her floor 
are models of excellence for buoyancy and speed. Notwithstanding her 
vast capacity when fully laden she will only draw 24 feet of water; * 
consequently her displacement, in proportion to her size, will be one- 
third less than that of a ship of 1800 tons. She is built of white oak and 
hard pine, and is coppered up to twenty-five feet, and copper fas- 

* Her correct draft was 25% feet. Registered tons, 4,555. Sail area, 15,653 yards. 


tened. Her frame is all of white oak, and of this wood there are 2056 
tons used in her construction; 1,500,000 feet of hard pine, 326 tons 
of iron, 56 tons of copper, exclusive of sheathing, and she has 1658 
knees. Her entire frame, all of her keelsons, waterways, and thick 
work are coaked, and her frame is also diagonally cross braced with 
iron, and bolted through it, and most of her ceiling is double, and 21 
inches in thickness. In a word, she is the largest and strongest ship 
ever built. 

"This noble craft has material enough to build two such ships as 
the Pennsylvania, the largest three-decker belonging to the United 
States Navy. Her lines are slightly concave forward and aft up to 
the load displacement line, but above these they are convex, to corre- 
spond with her outline on the rail. For a head she has the American 
eagle emerging from below the bowsprit; and her stern, which is semi- 
circular in outline, is spanned by another eagle, 36 feet between the 
tips of his wings. Instead of bulwarks, her upper deck is protected by 
a rail on turned stanchions, which looks fine. She has four masts, the 
after one fore-and-aft rigged, and named the spanker mast, and the 
others, the fore, main and mizzen mast, as usual. She has Forbes's 
rig, and consequently has double topsails, and will spread over 15,000 
yards of canvas in a single suit of sails. The fore and mainmasts are 
131 feet in length and four feet in diameter; and her main yard is 
120 feet square and 28 inches in diameter, and the others in propor- 
tion. All her accommodations are on the upper between decks below 
the spar deck, and she has two spacious cabins aft, and excellent 
quarters for her crew forward. 

"Among the many details of the equipment of this splendid vessel, 
are a fire engine, four hold pumps, a new capstan of her captain's 
invention for purchasing the anchor, one of Allyn's patent capstans, 
and a steam engine of twelve horse power, designed for taking in and 
discharging cargo, pumping ship, hoisting topsails, or doing any other 
heavy work. She has Crane's self-acting chain stoppers, four bower 
anchors with chains of two and one half inch, and 120 fathoms in 
length, and she has eight boats, two of them longer than some of the 
vessels which have doubled Cape Horn since gold was discovered in 
California. We might fill our paper with details of this wonderful 
ship, and still the story of her greatness would be but half told. Suffice 
it, therefore, to say that this mighty fabric of mechanical genius is not 


the work of a company or of a wealthy mercantile firm, but of a 
mechanic, and that mechanic is Donald McKay, a name already fa- 
mous on every sea for all that is fleet and beautiful, but which now 
stands alone as the greatest naval architect in the world. 

"Every time we look at the Great Republic, or that we inspect her 
in detail, we become more vividly impressed with the greatness of the 
comprehensive mind that first designed her, and the matchless skill 
that produced her. She is original and beautiful beyond compare, and 
will be the pride of America wherever she throws the Stars and Stripes 
to the breeze. Captain Lauchlan McKay, brother of her builder and 
owner, and formerly of the Sovereign of the Seas, commands her. To 
say that he is worthy of the ship is the highest praise that can be 
awarded him. She will carry a crew of 100 men and 30 boys, and will 
load in New York, either for California or Australia. Good luck attend 
her, for she is the best and most beautiful ship in the world !" 

The Great Republic was, so far as can be judged from the material 
which exists regarding her — and there is an unusual amount of it, 
including a 24-page pamphlet written by "a Sailor" — indeed a beau- 
tiful ship. From other facts, culled here and there, one can recapture 
much of her appearance as she was originally built, just as, in autumn 
leaves saved from a bonfire, there remains, always, something sugges- 
tive of the grandeur of October. On the spar deck were five houses 
widely spaced and painted white to correspond with her snowy rail. 
Her richly appointed after-cabin was wainscoted with mahogany ; the 
furniture was of mahogany, velvet covered, and the tables had marble 
tops. Sofas were recessed into the walls, which in turn were paneled 
and hung with paintings and mirrors, and the whole interior was 
illuminated by light that entered through stained glass. Her crew had 
excellent accommodations, also, and access to a very fine library. 

An idea of the Great Republic's size is suggested by the fact that 
her main rigging and maintopmast rigging were of rope eight inches 
thick, while the rigging of her fore and mainmasts and the maintop- 
mast backstays were as big around as the calf of a man's leg. It is not 
known how much she cost Mr. McKay, but, soon after her launch, 
one of the newspapers stated that he had refused an offer of $300,000 


for her. Her running expenses were estimated at $10,000 a month — 
very high, and she was insured for $150,000. 

Before she was taken in charge by the steam tug R. B. Forbes to 
be escorted to New York to load for Liverpool, the public was admitted 
on board, at a small fee, for purposes of inspection; the proceeds were 
turned over to the Seamen's Aid Society of Boston. The amount col- 
lected was small — $1,000 — but it is impossible to estimate the number 
of people who contributed towards it, since the inspection fee was so 

In the meantime, headline news that was to have a direct bearing 
on clipper-ship destiny, aside from its major significance, spread its 
black banners to the world. Following upon a series of events: the 
revolt, early in 1853, of the Greek Catholics of Montenegro against their 
Moslem masters; the rapine and bloodshed of the Moslem army under 
Omar Pasha in the ensuing attempt to subdue the revolt; the diplo- 
matic action of the government in Vienna in bringing an end to the 
Montenegrin quarrel; the interference of Napoleon III of France with 
his loud-voiced demands for rights for Roman Catholics, equal to those 
of the Greek Catholics, to make pilgrimages to the holy places; the 
attempt of Prince Menshikov to bully Sultan Abdul Medjid into ac- 
ceptance of a Russian protectorate over all Greek Christians, and the 
Sultan's refusal — following upon all these events, Nicholas I of Russia, 
with a self -deceiving eye on the strength of England, a scornful one 
on France, and a boot raised to kick the Turk out of Europe, prepared 
himself to carry out an old desire of Peter the Great's and of Cath- 
erine's. He sent 80,000 Russians across the Pruth into Moldavia and 
Wallachia to wait until the Porte answered the demands that he had 
made through the mouth of Menshikov. On October 4, the day the 
Boston crowds gathered to witness the launch of the Great Republic, 
Nicholas received his answer, and the answer was — war. 

One month later, Omar Pasha, with his Turks, defeated a Russian 
army at Oltenitza on the Danube, and, on the 27th of November, 
England and France — somewhat cheered by this blow to an ominous 
power — signed a treaty to help the Porte, in the event that Russia 

qreat: republic 209 

still cared to continue the fight, and dispatched fleets to the Bosphorus. 
The month closed with a rain of Russian shell over a Turkish squadron 
in the harbor of Sinope, followed by a feeble defense with old-fashioned 
solid shot and the total destruction of the squadron. "This," said 
England, "was a massacre"; but the whole world recognized it for 
something worse: impending European battle. 

In December the Great Republic, unaware that she and many of 
her sister ships would one day have their part to play in the Crimean 
War, lay at New York City with a $300,000 cargo of provisions deep 
in her hold, preparing for her departure, within a few days, to Liver- 
pool. She was unaware, also, that she herself was close to destruction. 

On the night of December 26-7 fire broke out in the Novelty Baking 
Company on Front Street and, within a short while, the rigging of 
the Great Republic, lying at her wharf near by, was a network of 
flame. Other ships caught fire. At pier 27 the mate of the White 
Squall hacked furiously at the moorings of that ship, also afire; the 
ship Joseph Walter was aflame, and, aboard the Great Republic, the 
crew chopped away at the masts in an attempt to free her of the red 
rain pouring onto the decks from overhead. Daylight brought its 
depressing aftermath of charred timbers and gaps where buildings 
had once stood. The beautiful White Squall lay grounded at the foot 
of Hudson Street, burnt to the water's edge, and the Great Republic, 
showing only the shell of her bow above the water, clipped of her 
tapering spars and shorn of her upperworks, was a scutded, smoldering 

Donald McKay came down from Boston to see his ship and to turn 
her over to the underwriters, after which she was pumped clear of 
water and rebuilt at Greenpoint, Long Island, by Sneedon & Whit- 
lock, under the superintendence of Captain N. B. Palmer. At the end 
of a year, owned by A. A. Low & Brother, she was ready for sea again 
— but she was not the same ship. Her spars were considerably shorter, 
her upper deck was gone, and her stowage capacity was approximately 
2,000 tons less than it had originally been. She was fitted with Howes 
rig, her depth of hold was reduced to 29% feet, her breadth of beam 


to 48 V3 feet, and her registered tonnage to 3,356. A billet scroll re- 
placed her eagle figurehead. How great a speed she might have shown, 
as Donald McKay had built her, was a secret that reposed in the smoke 
and flame of that night after Christmas in 1853. 

On February 24, 1855, commanded by Captain Joseph Limeburner 
and manned by a crew of fifty, the Great Republic took her departure 
for Liverpool, making her passage, according to her captain, "land 
to land in 12 days." * She reached Liverpool in 19 days, but, owing to 
her great draft, was obliged to go to Long Reach to discharge her 
cargo, and later, when she went to London, was obliged to lie in the 
Thames, since no dock could accommodate her. W. S. Lindsay, in 
commenting upon the Great Republic at this time, says: "She brought 
3,000 tons of guano as 'ballast' from New York to London, and made 
the passage to the Scilly Islands in thirteen days, beating up the 
English Channel thence against an easterly gale in three days to the 
Downs. But, on her arrival in London, where she was consigned to 
the care of my firm, I found that she was much too large to be em- 
ployed, profitably, in any of the ordinary channels of commerce; and, 
had not the French Government, then in want of transports for the 
Crimean War, been induced by the large space she offered for the 
conveyance of their troops, to engage her for this purpose, she must 
have remained long after her arrival unemployed." 

The Great Republic served as a transport until the end of the war, 
returning to New York, late in 1856, where she loaded for California. 
On December 7 she was outside the lightship at 3 p.m., crossed the 
Atlantic Equator 15 days 18 hours out — record-smashing time — and 
completed the passage less than seventy-seven days later. Her time of 
92 days from New York was the fastest California passage of the year 
and was better, by nine days, than that of any other clipper, including 
the Westward Ho, which sailed within twenty-one days of her. 

Fifty-four days after taking her departure from San Francisco, the 
Great Republic was at the guano chutes of the Chincha Islands, where 
her hold was filled with 4,500 tons of fertilizer for the London market. 

* See log, Appendix IV. 


After that she had a bad time of it: shipped a sea off the Falklands 
that first smashed in her deck and then found its way into the cargo 
and thence into the food. The crew nearly starved, and it became 
necessary to put in at the Falklands and to dispatch a schooner to 
Montevideo for provisions, and for materials with which to make 
badly needed repairs. On January 11, 1858, she arrived at London. 

Her passages during the following two years were more or less 
routine. In 1858 she was beaten by the Talisman on her journey west- 
ward, and in 1859 by the Ocean Telegraph. In 1861 she was at San 
Francisco in 104 days from New York; but later in the same year, 
upon her arrival at New York from Liverpool, she was seized by 
the surveyor of the port of New York as rebel property. A. A. Low 
& Brother, who then owned but three-eighths of her, purchased the 
other five-eighths from Virginia and South Carolina shareholders, and 
shortly afterwards chartered her to the U. S. Government for trans- 
port purposes. She first went to Port Royal with troops (being one 
of nearly forty transports sent down in the fall of the year), and then, 
in February, 1862, to Ship Island where the troops of General Ben- 
jamin F. Butler were stationed prior to the siege of New Orleans. 

From November, 1862, to 1865 she was back on the California run, 
after which she was laid up for a year or more, and then purchased 
by a firm in Nova Scotia. During their ownership she made one good 
run of 14 days from St. Johns to Liverpool. In 1869 she was pur- 
chased for ^3,500 by the Merchants Trading Company of Liverpool 
and renamed the Denmar\. On March 2, 1872, on her way from Rio 
to pick up a cargo of lumber for Great Britain, she ran into a gale, 
sprang a leak, and was abandoned somewhere off Bermuda. Her por- 
trait, painted in 1882 by Francois Roux, the painter-bookseller of Mar- 
seilles, hangs today in the Musee de Marine du Louvre. 

Built By 

At East 

Plans Drawn 





Great* Republic 


Lenqth: on Deck325J£ft 
Load Water-line 314ft 

Be am: (mould** 494 ft. 

Extreme 50>2ft. 

Depth cmoulded) 32ft. 

Reqister 4,553tons 

Gross tons 0,923 

Displacement at 

23ft. 5,273Gross 





Fullv Rigged 

60 56- 5t 48 it. 40 36 32 28 2d 20 16 II 6 4. *t K D H M Q U V e g I p t x b f 

Upper Hull 
Plans -7 
I Scale of 
Body Plan 

Sail, Pi_<^mm 


Clipper Packet 

J_ he Dreadnought was a mere pygmy compared with the Great 
Republic — whose launching preceded hers by two days — and her lines, 
compared with those of the crack sailing vessels of her day, were much 
more "packet" than "clipper." She was, however, commanded by the 
valiant Sam Samuels of Philadelphia, who ran away to sea at the age 
of eleven, became a captain before he became of age, learned to be a 
wild, driving packetmaster, whose fame was almost equal on both 
sides of the Atlantic, and who lived to write a fine-flavored, half- 
didactic, half-romantic book, crowded with his own adventures on 
land and sea. To Captain Samuels — a great believer in publicity — 
really belongs the credit for saving the Dreadnought from the fate of 
many other good ships: a few lines under sailing dates and a final 
couplet under the heading "Lost at Sea." 

By the time the Dreadnought was launched the old sailing packets 
had lost most of their former prestige on the transatlantic route, nor 
did they ever improve sufficiently in design and passenger comfort 
to regain the luxury trade captured by the more fashionable steam- 
ships. In 1836, when M'Culloch wrote that "it may be doubted, indeed, 
seeing how well the intercourse is maintained by the sailing packet, 
whether the introduction of steam packets would be of material serv- 
ice," cabin passengers were paying thirty-five guineas to New York 
from London and Liverpool, and $140 to London and Liverpool from 
New York; whereas, in 1853, the steamship charges were thirty pounds 

sterling from England, and $120 from America. And freight rates, 


214 C L IP p ER SHIPS 

because of the rivalry between the Collins Line and the Cunarders, had 
dropped from £y.ios to £4 per ton via the mail ships. The passage 
by steamer was faster, more certain, and more comfortable — in spite 
of all the rolling and noise of the screw — and the choice of food on 
a subsidized ship was not to be compared with the meager best a self- 
supporting sailing ship could offer. According to Captain Mackin- 
non, R.N., who traveled to America and home again in 1852 and 
who wrote an article for Harper's New Monthly Magazine extolling 
the delights of steamship travel, a typical bill of fare on board the 
Collins Liner Baltic offered such an array as the following: "Green 
Turtle Soup and Potage aux choux; Hams, Tongues, Corned Beef, 
Turkeys with Oyster Sauce, Fowls with Parsley Sauce, and Leg of 
Mutton with Caper Sauce; Cod-fish, stuffed and baked, or Boiled 
Bass with Hollander Sauce; Beef, Veal, Mutton, Lamb, Geese with 
Champagne Sauce, Ducks, Pigs, Turkeys and Fowls; Macaroni au 
gratin, Filet de Pigeon au Cronstaugh, Croquette de Poisson a la 
Richelieu, Salmi de Canard Sauvage, Poulets, pique, Sauce Tomato, 
Cotelette de Veau a la St. Gara, Fricandeau de Tortue aux petits Pois, 
D'Oyers en cassi and Epigram d' Agneau, Sauce Truppe ; Green Corn 
and Green Peas; Potato Salad and Plain Salad; Baked Vermicelli 
Pudding, Apple Fritters with Hard Sauce; Almond Cup Custards, 
Red Currant Tardets, Apple Tarts, Open Puffs, Cranberry Tarts and 
Coventry Puffs; Fruits, Nuts, Olives, Cakes, etc.; and Coffee or 
Frozen Lemonade." And that was eighty-four years ago, twelve years 
after the Cunard Line was established and but three years after the 
Collins Line had entered into competition. 

As steamships improved their services, just so did the wind packets 
retrograde, until finally they carried their last cheap burdens and ad- 
mitted defeat. It speaks well for the Dreadnought, however, that, 
launched as late as she was, she became a very famous ship; and, that, 
in spite of being smashed into storms — which would have wrecked 
less hardy vessels — by the redoubtable Captain Samuels, and never but 
once under less than double-reefed topsails, this "wild boat of the 
Atlantic" maintained a fairly high average of speed, spent a full and 


vreadhought: 215 

profitable life, and survived all the other clippers and packets sailing 
in the Red Cross fleet. She was built by Currier & Townsend of New- 
buryport, and measured: keel, 200 feet; deck, 212 feet; extreme beam, 
41 feet 6 inches; depth of hold, 26 feet 6 inches; tons register, 1,413; 
cargo-carrying capacity, 2,000 tons. She was owned by David Ogden, 
E. Morgan, Francis B. Cutting, and others, whose Red Cross Line of 
New York to Liverpool packets included the ships Racer, Highflyer, 
Driver, Andrew Foster, and Victory. Her house flag was a red cross 
on a white field, and she wore a broad red cross on the white expanse 
of her fore topsail. In appearance she was handsome, somewhat full- 
built, and very powerfully rigged. 

From the beginning of her first voyage, December 6, 1853, to the 
summer of 1864, when she was put on the berth for San Francisco, 
the Dreadnought made 31 round trips between New York and Liver- 
pool. Arriving home in February, 1854, after her first round she com- 
pleted the shortest run to the westward she ever made: 19 days. This 
passage, sailed under the most distressing weather conditions, is only 
four days over the record run made by the Andrew ]ac\son in i860. 
Her best-known runs to the eastward were: from Sandy Hook, 
6:30 p.m. November 20, 1854, to the Mersey, 10 p.m. December 4, in 
13 days 11 hours 15 minutes, Mean Time, exclusive of eight hours de- 
tained by the tide at the bar; and from Sandy Hook, February 27, 
1859, to the Northwest Lightship, Liverpool, in 13 days 8 hours, Mean 
Time. The all-time record run over this course is that of the Red 
Jacket made in 1854 from dock to dock in 13 days 1 hour 25 min- 
utes, elapsed time. There is also another extremely fast passage, of 
9 days 17 hours from Sandy Hook to Cape Clear, credited to the 
Dreadnought, but on this passage it appears that she cleared and 
sailed on June 16, 1859, arrived off Cape Clear on the 27th, and 
reached Liverpool on July 2. The Illustrated London News gave her 
a few lines on the back page of its Saturday, July 9, 1859 issue, credit- 
ing her with a run of 9 days to Cape Clear, but the fact that this run 
does not seem to be mentioned elsewhere is as remarkable as the 
passage would have been had it been made. There is, of course, always 


the possibility that the Dreadnought did not sail on June 16 — as there 
is also the possibility that the Illustrated London News was guilty of a 
typographical or other error. 

On one of her passages in January, 1863, the Dreadnought fell in 
with an Atlantic gale that nearly finished her career and that of her 
master. Five days out of Liverpool, in weather that was so bad that 
even Sam Samuels was forced to order reefs in the maintopsail, the 
ship was hove to on the wrong tack by a dangerously bad piece of 
seamanship on the part of the man at the wheel, while she was directly 
in the path of a hurrying wall of water. Within a short space of time 
the wall loomed over the ship and then, changing shape, descended 
with a roar of angry satisfaction, flattened itself out into a taut-bellied 
creature with a multitude of liquid arms that tore at the hatches, pried 
into the cabins, flailed at the captain, killed the carpenter, and eventu- 
ally departed with the rudder. As the ship lay in the trough of the 
sea, afterwards, the waves made a clean breach over her, and inside, 
in the cabin, the captain lay desperately injured. 

Any other ship but the Dreadnought would have been finished and 
many another captain than Captain Samuels would have abandoned 
her. As it was impossible to get the bow of the vessel turned toward 
Fayal, and an attempt to ship a jury rudder failed, Captain Samuels 
issued instructions to sail her backwards toward Fayal. A few days 
later another attempt to ship a jury rudder proved successful and the 
Dreadnought reached a harbor once more. After her return to New 
York, Captain Samuels went into steam, eventually became Superin- 
tendent of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and died in 1908. 

The Dreadnought was repaired, and sailed for Liverpool in the 
summer of 1863, and again in December. On her return from the last 
eastward passage she was struck once more by a heavy sea which 
killed her commander, Captain Lytle, and carried away her rudder. 
Mr. Rockwell, her mate, brought her home to New York, after which 
she made a passage of 134 days to San Francisco, thence 13 days to 
Honolulu, under the command of Captain Cushing. In 1866 her pas- 
sage to San Francisco was made in 127 days, and in 1867 in 149 days, 

dreadhought: 217 

thence to Queenstown in 121 days, thence to Liverpool where she 
loaded for California. 

She sailed from Liverpool on April 28, 1869, commanded by Cap- 
tain P. N. Mayhew, and 29 days out, on July 4, got among the breakers 
off Cape Penas, near Tierra del Fuego. This time she was abandoned 
by her captain and crew, who were picked up, fourteen days later, 
by the Norwegian barque General Birch and taken to Chile. 


California Clipper 

In addition to the Great Republic and Dreadnought, seven other clip- 
per ships were launched during the month of October, 1853. Three 
went down the ways the same day as the huge McKay ship: Tobey & 
Littlefield's Morning Star, James O. Curtis's Eagle Wing, and the 
Lookout, built by Chase & Davis of Rhode Island. The others, which 
followed later in the month, were: the almost faultless David Brown, 
built by Roosevelt & Joyce, successors to Jacob Bell; the lightning-fast 
Panama, built by Thomas Collyer, and third ship of the same name 
owned by N. L. & G. Griswold; the Romance of the Seas, designed 
by George B. Upton, built by Donald McKay and sometimes consid- 
ered his masterpiece; and the David Crockett, launched on October 18 
from the yards of Greenman & Company of Mystic, Connecticut. Of 
these, the Morning Star and the David Crockett survived the others 
from at least twelve to twenty-seven years, and when the Morning 
Star was lost in 1890 the Crockett was just beginning a new career 
as a barge. 

In appearance the Crockett was rather rugged — not so handsome 
as most of the clippers were. Her name was probably very suitable 
for her, as was her figurehead of a frontiersman done "to the life." 
She was built for the account of Handy & Everett of New York, and 
measured: length, 215 feet 10 inches; breadth, 40 feet 6 inches; depth 
of hold, 27 inches; cargo-carrying capacity, 2,800 tons; register, 1,697 
tons. She cost $93,000 and was immediately put on the transatlantic 

route to operate as a packet between New York and Liverpool. 


T)avid Qrockctt 


November saw the launching of six more clippers, but only two 
of these — John Taylor's Aurora and Trufant & Drummond's Vising 
— were immediately added to the California fleet. Metcalf & Norris's 
Flying Scud, George Thomas's Red Jacket, and Horace Merriam's 
Live Yankee were sent to England on their maiden passages; while the 
Dunham-built Nonpareil — a splendid ship — lay for weeks at Grand 
Junction Wharf, East Boston, awaiting a purchaser. She was eventu- 
ally put on the berth for New Orleans. Other ships launched late in 
the year also felt the slump in the California market and were obliged 
to look elsewhere for employment. The Elizabeth Kimball took a 
cargo of ice and apples out to Calcutta. The Gauntlet made her maiden 
voyage from Bath, Maine, to Mobile, thence to Liverpool ; the Electric 
went to Havre; and a number of others made their first run a trip 
to England and return. 

In December but nine clippers took their departure for California 
as against fifteen in December of the previous year and nineteen in 
January, 1853. On the whole the year had been brisk and prosperous, 
the beautiful clippers were still amazingly popular, and their fast 
passages were considered the answer to all economic ills of the future. 
California continued to produce large quantities of gold, and the gen- 
eral belief was that, in spite of any temporary slump — which was to be 
expected — the Golden West would continue to be a perennial market 
for gold-gathering Eastern shippers. But the California fleet was being 
increased beyond the bounds of reason — more clippers were building, 
orders were pouring in to the hands of the builders, the names of 
new owners and new shipwrights were constantly coming to the fore, 
and so a few more clippers were added to the fleet in December, and 
the coming year was to witness the launch of seventy more. 

In December world-wide interest centered in news of the Crimea. 
Gossip and facts were pelted about: it was said that Rachel, the great 
tragedienne, impoverished by gambling, was considering retrieving her 
fortune by accepting a ;£ 16,000 a year offer from Nicholas to come 
to Russia to entertain the people of St. Petersburg; Napoleon III said 
that he hoped the disagreement between Russia and Turkey would 


be settled amicably but, if not, the French army was ready; recruiting 
began in Poland; the Caucasian Provinces threatened to revolt; riot- 
ing was reported between the Russian troops and the Wallachian min- 
istry; the Polish Revolutionary Committee, in London, met and ex- 
horted England to go into the war; England replied that she wanted 
war — to save her possessions in India ; meetings were held at Glasgow 
and Manchester demanding war; Kossuth wrote a letter — if Russia 
succeeded in her attempts, England would lose her position as a first- 
rate power; Mazzini wrote a letter; and women, who from time im- 
memorial have been suspected of wearing their hearts on their sleeves 
when they were parading current events, reflected the trend of current 
thought by donning turbans, loose pantaloons, and other oddments 
a la Orientale. 

The American press said, "Nicholas is an idiot" and turned to 
brood over its own country's affairs and to count up its losses at the 
end of a winter season. In February the clipper Golden Light had 
been struck by lightning, had caught fire and been abandoned; the 
clipper Charles Mallory ran ashore on the coast of Brazil during the 
summer months and was left to break up; and four seamen of the 
clipper ship Defiance, at the Chincha Islands in August, were put in 
irons by the Peruvian authorities for shooting a pelican. Captain 
McCerran offered to pay the fine of one dollar, but it was refused 
and the men were kept in irons and chained to the deck of the ship. 
Following this, a deputation of American shipmasters called on the 
commandant of the port, who refused to meet them, and they were 
attacked by a force of sixty men, who inflicted severe injuries on sev- 
eral. On August 17, the Defiance fired a salute as she was about to 
leave port. This also seemed to be against the law, and the captain 
was fined, and paid, twenty-five dollars for discharging the gun. This 
in turn was followed by a brutal attack on all on board, occasioned 
by some remark of Captain McCerran's, and he himself was placed 
in irons and the Defiance seized by the Peruvian authorities. In the 
fall of the year, the Eclipse, caught in a hurricane between San Bias 
and Manzanilla, Mexico, was blown ashore and went to pieces; and 


shortly afterward the Dauntless, out of Boston for Valparaiso, vanished 
at sea. 

The most tragic disasters to American ships, however, happened 
from Christmas day to the end of December, the worst being the 
wreck of the new steamer San Francisco, out of New York on Decem- 
ber 22 with 700 persons aboard, including Companies A, B, D, G, H, 
J, K, and L of the Third Regiment of the United States Artillery, the 
non-commissioned staff and band of the regiment, passengers, ship's 
officers and crew, and cabin and steerage waiters. On the evening of 
the 24th the ship broached-to twice in a heavy gale. The second time, 
the fore staysail, fore spencer, and foresail were blown away, after 
which the piston-rod of the air-pump broke, the engine stopped, and 
the spanker blew away. From then on the sea had its way with her, 
ripping up planking, pulling down masts, opening seams and the 
paddle-box, taking away, first, the funnels and the saloon, and then, 
in one long scream — like a child in a tantrum scooping his new Christ- 
mas soldiers into a box — about one hundred and fifty of the troops. 
Captain Eben Linnell, not many miles away in the clipper ship Eagle 
Wing, noted in his log book: "... in 31 years at sea have never seen a 
typhoon or hurricane so severe." 

The troops were carried away between nine and ten o'clock on 
Christmas morning, after which the sea, having gained entry to the 
steamer, proceeded, like a liquid beast, to chase chilled and terrified 
passengers about and to carry things away. About noon, rescue hove 
in sight in the guise of the brig Napoleon of Pordand, and her cap- 
tain shouted across the icy winds that, until the seas abated, he would 
stand by. All night the passengers of the steamer sent up thanks to 
God, and forgot their terror in the bright promise of morning. When 
morning came, the passengers of the San Francisco scanned the be- 
calmed waters for a sight of the friendly sail, but the brig Napoleon 
of Portland was gone. 

For a few more days the steamer drifted northward towards Boston 
when, near the noon hour of another day, the brig Maria Freeman 

222 c lippe R ships 

of Nova Scotia hove in sight. She, too, promised to stand by during 
the night, but when morning came she, too, was gone. 

The following morning the barque Kilby, Captain Low, from New 
Orleans drew alongside. Again the promise to remain during the 
night was given, and the next morning, to the amazement of the 
people in the steamer, she was still standing by. Several boatloads of 
passengers were taken into the barque, and then she, too, departed. 
More days followed and illness and death were added to the fear and 
discomfort of those remaining on board the drifting San Francisco. 
Gradually they despaired of ever seeing another sail. But on the morn- 
ing of December 31 — a day and a night after the Staffordshire had 
struck crushingly against Blond Rock — the Three Bells, of Glasgow, 
discovered their plight. Three days later the two ships were joined by 
another, the Antarctic, three days out from New York. The Antarctic 
had boats — which both the Three Bells and the San Francisco badly 
needed — and soon the work of loading the Glasgow ship with pas- 
sengers began, and the remainder — about 140 — were taken aboard the 

The last day of the year the clipper ship Flying Arrow arrived at 
San Francisco, reporting a passage of 143 days. It was the last pas- 
sage of nearly 150 that had been made westward during the year, and no 
fewer than twenty had made passages of no days or under. The flyers 
of the year were as follows: Flying Fish, 92% days; John Gilpin, 93% 
days; Contest, 100 days; Oriental, 101 days; Trade Wind, 103 days; 
Golden Gate, Flying Dutchman, Phantom, 104 days each; Flying 
Cloud, Hornet, Flying Dutchman (second arrival), 106 days each; 
Westward Ho, Sword fish, 107 days each; Winged Racer, 108 days; 
Sea Serpent, Bald Eagle, 109 days each; Young America, Invincible, 
Witchcraft, and Contest, no days each. 

Other records established during the year were: Phantom, 23 days 
from Boston to latitude of Rio; Comet, ny 2 days from San Francisco 
to Pacific Equator; Northern Light, all-time record of 76 days 6 hours 
from San Francisco to Boston; same passage, 38 days from San Fran- 
cisco to the Horn; Nightingale, 72 days from Portsmouth, England, to 


Anjier; Contest, 180 days net sailing round trip between New York 
and San Francisco; Flying Dutchman, 6 months 24 days round trip 
between New York and San Francisco, including detention in port; 
Witch of the Wave, 37 days from Saugor to past the Cape of Good 
Hope; same passage, 81 days from Saugor to Boston; barque Wild- 
fire, 14 days from Boston to Gilbraltar; Caroline, 16 days from Charles- 
ton to Liverpool; Sword fish, 32 days 9 hours, San Francisco to 
Shanghai; Warner, 6j days from Valparaiso to New York; barque 
Nimrod, 36 days from Rio to Port Phillip; Telegraph, 58 days from 
Valparaiso to Boston; Phantom, 32 days, in distress, from Callao to 
Rio; and Hornet, 33 days from San Francisco to Callao. 

The David Crockett, in the meantime, was introducing herself to 
the transadantic trade, in which she remained, with the exception of 
an 85-day passage from Liverpool to Aden, until early in 1857. Her 
best two passages during the period were: 19 days from New York 
to Liverpool, and 25 days from Liverpool to New York. 

From 1857 to 1883 she made twenty-five passages between New 
York and San Francisco at an average, per passage, of a little less than 
119 days. Her longest passage was 157 days, made in 1882; her short- 
est, 103 days, made in 1871. Fifteen passages between San Francisco 
and New York were made at an average, per passage, of 100 days. The 
longest was 116 days, in 1880; the shortest, 93 days, in 1883. Other 
return passages were made to Liverpool with grain, and she made one 
to Hampton Roads, by way of Callao, with guano. Another passage 
was made to Liverpool, by way of Callao, with guano; another, via 
the same route, was made to Cork; and still another to Philadelphia. 
With the exception of a short period in 1869, when she was being 
thoroughly overhauled, the Crockett was employed constantly during 
the years to 1890, and proved to be an excessively profitable investment 
for her various owners. 

Early in her career, probably about the time she was taken off the 
transatlantic run, she was sold to Lawrence Giles & Co. of New York, 
who in turn sold her to George Howes & Company, who were suc- 
ceeded by John Rosenfeld. In 1880 she was sold to Thomas Dunham's 


Nephew & Co., and shortly afterwards, when S. W. Carey purchased 
her, she was rerigged as a barque and put back on the transatlantic 
route. In 1890 she was purchased by Peter Wright & Son of Philadel- 
phia and was converted into a barge. 


California Clipper 


'n January 4, 1854 — the same day that the French and English 
fleets entered the Black Sea, during that brief prelude to what Eng- 
land referred to afterwards as her "unfortunate war" — Stephen A. 
Douglas, with one hand stretched out towards the presidency of the 
United States and the other engaged in stirring up a mess of trouble, 
again brought into the limelight the "bad penny" bill for the organi- 
zation of the Territory of Nebraska; and the old slave question, which 
resolved itself into whether a Southern gentleman was to be allowed 
(according to Badger of the South) to take his old mammy with him 
into the new Territory, or whether he intended (according to Wade 
of the North) to sell her when he got her there — this question rolled 
a little farther, like a booted barrel of dynamite, towards its ultimate 
flaming conclusion. 

Douglas's eloquence, which rose to its persuasive heights in a mid- 
night-to-daybreak speech on March 3-4, was finally effectual in getting 
the Missouri Compromise (which prohibited slavery in the Nebraska 
Territory) set aside, and the Kansas-Nebraska Bill (which allowed the 
settler to make his own choice) accepted. The South could scarcely 
express its pleasure. But opinion in the North hardened, Douglas was 
hanged in effigy at several places, and, when Anthony Burns, runaway 
negro slave, was arrested at Boston and remanded to the United States 
court for examination in May, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., ofTered his 
professional services, and Wendell Phillips and Theodore Parker 

harangued a sympathetic and excited crowd at Faneuil Hall. Burns 



was eventually put aboard a United States revenue cutter and taken 
to Virginia, but his owner had spent $40,000 to procure his return. 

In February, the New York to Mobile mail steamer Blac\ Warrior 
was seized at Havana, on the pretext that the captain was exceeding 
his rights in specifying his cargo of cotton as ballast (although it was 
customary at the time to enter any cargo in transit as ballast) and, 
as a result, the United States demanded that Spain pay $300,000 
indemnity. Thus was raised the question of war with Spain — which 
Great Britain said was merely the South looking for a pretext to 
seize Cuba so that more slave states could be made. During the sum- 
mer Spain was in the throes of a revolution, and the United States 
toyed with the idea of purchasing Cuba, and, in the fall of the year, 
Soule, Mason, and Buchanan met and signed the disgraceful Ostend 
Manifesto: "...does Cuba, in the possession of Spain, seriously en- 
danger our internal peace and the existence of our cherished Union? . . . 
then, by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting 
it from Spain, if we possess the power. . . ." 

In March, war was officially declared against Russia by England 
and France, and the stage was set at last for the flashing deeds of 
Cossack, Turk, Redcoat, Highlander, and Zouave, in the scarlet spot- 
light of Sebastopol. America was signing treaties: one, in March, with 
Japan, by which new ports were opened to American commerce, and 
another, in June, with Canada, whereby American fishermen gained 
permission to fish in the harbors and creeks of Canada, Prince Edward 
Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and numerous articles of 
Canadian farm produce, timber, tallow, and such were admitted to the 
United States duty-free. 

Summer, in the United States, was marked by sluggish trade con- 
ditions; raids, by women, upon saloons; and rioting of all sorts insti- 
gated by the political skullduggery of the Know-Nothing Party. Then 
on July 6, at Jackson, Michigan, the Republican Party was formed, 
definite principles were adopted to deal with the slave problem, and 
the handwriting was, indeed, on the wall. 

Autumn brought a panic, following upon the summer's sluggish 

Sunny South 


trade conditions; Wall Street was upset; banks suspended payment, 
and the South and West found themselves in the most distressing of 
financial conditions. 

In the meantime, the ships sailed, while the politicians fought over 
the question of slavery, while the world rang with the news of the 
Crimea, and the words Silistria, Guirgevo, the Alma, Balaklava, and 
Inkerman became as familiar to the ears as London, Paris, and New 
York. Fast passage followed upon fast passage and record piled upon 
record, but the wonderful performance of the ships of 1854 was akin 
to that of a cast of players whose words and gestures are tipped with 
fire, after the box-office is closed, the cash-drawer empty, and the 
house filled with paper. The Flying Cloud, in 89 days 8 hours, smashed 
her own record on the California run; the Romance of the Seas made 
the same passage in 96 days, the Witchcraft in 98, the David Brown 
in 99, the Polynesia and the Eagle in 104 each, the Westward Ho in 
105, the San Francisco, the Archer, and the Herald of the Morning 
in 106 each, the Samuel Russell in 107, the Pamper and the Golden 
City in 108 each, and the Ringleader, the Matchless, the Stag Hound, 
the Flyaway, and the Cleopatra in no. 

In January the Red Jacket set the pace by a 13 day 1 hour 25 minute 
run from New York to Liverpool, and the Messenger smashed all 
existing records in an 82-day passage from San Francisco to Phila- 
delphia. In February the Spitfire winged her way from Rio to San 
Francisco in the fast sailing time of 65 days, and the Comet hung up 
a record of 35 % days from San Francisco to the Horn. In March the 
Comet was at New York from the Equator in 15 days with the all- 
time record run of 76 days from San Francisco behind her; in April 
the Golden City made the unbeaten passage of 36 days from San 
Francisco to Woosung, and the Telegraph claimed for all time the 
fast run of 34 days from Valparaiso to San Francisco. In May the 
Bald Eagle sped from San Francisco to New York in 78 days. In June 
the Flying Cloud completed her record voyage of 126 days from New 
York to China via San Francisco. In July the N. B. Palmer was at 
New York in 82 days from Honolulu — the record; the Typhoon was 


at Calcutta from the Lizard (England) in 80 days — the record; and 
the Eagle was at New York from Montevideo in 36 days — the record. 
The 84-day passage of the Comet from Liverpool to Hongkong, in 
September, was another record, and the run of the James Baines from 
Boston to Liverpool in 12 days 6 hours was never afterwards beaten. 
In October the Lightning flew from Melbourne to Liverpool in 63 days, 
pilot to pilot; the David Brown streaked in 69 days from Anjier to 
London; and the Wizard made the unbeaten run of 78 days from 
New York to Singapore. In November the Hurricane completed the 
record runs of the year by hanging up a new one — 6 days 12 hours 
from Hongkong to Singapore. 

During the year the clipper fleet was increased by some seventy 
new ships, including the last extreme clippers ever built in America, 
and was depleted by at least fifteen. The San Francisco, completing her 
maiden passage to the Golden Gate on the 8th of February, in the 
fine sailing time of 106 days, missed stays on entering and went on 
the rocks at Rialto Cove. A horde of plunderers descended upon the 
ship and stayed until driven away by a storm. The remains were 
sold, for $12,000, to Captain Robert Waterman. Seventeen days later 
the Oriental went on the rocks of the River Min with a cargo valued 
at $175,000; and in April the Golden Fleece, taking her departure 
from San Francisco for Manila, missed stays outside the Golden Gate, 
smashed on the rocks, and was sold for less than thirty-two hundred 
dollars. The Pride of the Sea was burnt off Bournemouth with a cargo 
of cotton, and the Blac\ Haw\ foundered, the Trade Wind was lost in 
collision with the ship Olympia of Boston, the Gazelle was dismasted 
and condemned, the Living Age was wrecked on Pratas Shoal, the 
Sovereign of the Seas was sold to Hamburg, and the Mystery, Pride 
of America, Blue Jacket, Fatherland, Architect, and Pride of the Ocean 
were sold to Great Britain. 

Among the new vessels launched during the year was the Sunny 
South, a ship whose principal claim to fame rests upon the fact that 
she was built by George Steers, designer of the yacht America. Steers, 
who was the son of Henry Steers — an English shipbuilder who emi- 


grated to the United States — was born in 1820. As a very young man 
he designed a number of fast boats and schooners, and, later, was re- 
sponsible for the design of a group of steamers, including the U. S. 
steam frigate Niagara. He also superintended the construction of the 
transatlantic steamship Arctic — the pride of the Collins Line — which 
collided with the French steamer Vesta in September, 1854, and went 
down with 400 passengers including the son, daughter, and wife of 
E. K. Collins. 

The Sunny South, built primarily for the China trade, was not a 
large ship (she was slightly smaller than the Rainbow), and although 
she was a saucy-looking craft and had many admirers, it is to be re- 
gretted that Steers built her instead of the 2,500-ton clipper, modeled 
after the yacht America, which he had said he intended to build. As 
early as December of the preceding year the newspapers stated defi- 
nitely that "Mr. Steers, the builder of the yacht America, has con- 
structed a model of a ship of 2,500 tons, for the California and New 
York trade, of which he is to be the owner himself, in part or exclu- 
sively, and which he undertakes will sail twenty-two miles an hour, 
beating any steamer that has ever yet floated. He will sail her against 
any ship in the world for $10,000." 

The Sunny South was, however, a ship of but 703 tons, measuring: 
length on the keel, 144 feet 8 inches; length over-all, 164 feet; breadth, 
31 feet 4 inches; depth, 16 feet 6 inches; dead-rise, 28 inches. Her 
figurehead was a dragon covered with scales, and she cost $70,000. 
Her first owner was Napier, Johnson & Company of New York, and 
Captain Michael Gregory was her first commander. 

On the 2 1 st of November she cleared at the New York Custom 
House and had the long passage of 143 days, including detention at 
Rio, to the Golden Gate — a passage slightly better than the average of 
seven other clippers that had sailed within a few days of her. From 
San Francisco she made a 51 -day crossing to Hongkong, with a cargo 
consisting of 200 bags of potatoes and 94 boxes containing the dead 
bodies of Chinese sent home for burial. 

Before she returned home again, another year rolled by. A railway 


train for the first time crossed the Isthmus of Panama (a significant 
item for fast sailing ships) ; the first Atlantic cable — between Breton, 
N. S., and Newfoundland — was laid; Nicholas I of Russia was dead 
and his people had evacuated the south side of Sebastopol; the Know- 
Nothings had met at Philadelphia to adopt a political platform, and 
the slave question in Kansas had reached the point of miniature war- 
fare. Forty-two medium clippers, including the Andrew Jac\son *— 
a ship destined to smash the record of the Flying Cloud — and the beau- 
tiful Baltimore-built Mary Whitridge, were added to the American 
merchant marine. And the records of 1855 were over. 

The fastest passages to San Francisco during the year were made 
by the Herald of the Morning and the Westward Ho: the former in 
100 days 6 hours, anchor to anchor, from New York; the latter in 100 
days 18 hours from Boston Light. The clipper ship Boston Light made 
the passage in 103 days, the Governor Morton in 104, the Flying Fish 
in 107, the Golden Eagle and Don Quixote in 108 each, and the Red 
Rover in no. Other fast passages included that of the John Bertram 
from Manila to Boston in 90 days, that of the Panama from Shanghai 
to New York in 85 days (6y days from Anjier), and that of the 
Nor' Wester from Boston to Calcutta in 86 days 21^4 hours. Records 
established were: James Baines, 63 days from Liverpool to Melbourne; 
Golden Gate, 86 days from Shanghai to England; Sierra Nevada, 15 
days from Hampton Roads to Liverpool; Defiance, 52 days from 
Chincha Islands to Hampton Roads; Sparkling Wave, 61 days from 
Montevideo to San Francisco; Whistler, 21 days from Anjier to Mel- 
bourne; Fearless, 86 days from Manila to Boston; Nightingale, 91 days 
from Shanghai to London; Rover's Bride, 31 days from Sydney to 
Valparaiso; Ocean Telegraph, 58 days from Callao to New York; 
Mary Whitridge, 12 days from Baltimore to the English Channel; 
Eagle Wing, 83 days 12 hours from London to Hongkong; Hurricane, 
84 days 12 hours from England to Calcutta; and the Red Jacket, 44 
days from the Equator to Melbourne. 

The John Bertram and the Seaman's Bride were both sold to Ham- 

* Lines shown at the end of this chapter. 


burg that year, and the Amphitrite, Young Brander, and Red Jacket 
were sold to England. The little Seaman, a ship of but 546 tons, was 
struck by lightning and burned at sea on her way from New Orleans 
to Marseilles. The Tinqua struck on a shoal and went down with her 
bottom stove in off Cape Hatteras. The Cleopatra, loaded with guano, 
was fatally damaged when she tore across a submerged wreck on her 
way to New York. The Climax sprang a leak off Callao, foundered, 
and was sold as she lay. The Highflyer, with all hands, disappeared at 
sea. The Whistler, four days out of Port Phillip for Singapore, went 
ashore at King's Island. The Lightfoot was wrecked at Saugor, and 
the Water Witch at Ypala. 

The Sunny South arrived home in January, 1856, and in March was 
deflected to the South American run. Twenty-nine days after she sailed, 
the Peace of Paris was signed and the Crimean War was ended, but 
the Sepoy Mutiny towards the close of the year was to call many of 
the clippers back into transport service. Another war was also coming 
to a close in the world of shipping; and yet another war — between 
men — was moving closer, day by day, to its beginning. 

In the war between ships, between sail and steam, between speed 
and the humdrum cargo-carrier, the American ships of 1856 piled 
record upon record in a barricade against defeat. But whereas records 
had once been equivalent to moneyed protection, million-dollar car- 
goes, and eighty-thousand-dollar freight rates, they were, in too short 
a time, to become no more than what the eye could see in them : a few 
scraps of paper written in an illegible hand, so many tickets to the 
guano chutes, the coolie ports, and the slave trade. If they were, also, 
last desperate bids for the richer fields of commerce, America was no 
longer greatly interested. She was fast turning her eyes inward, away 
from the sea. 

Fourteen clipper ships completed the passage to San Francisco in 
less than no days, during 1856. They were: the Sweepsta\es, 95 days; 
Antelope, 97 days; Electric Spar\, Reporter, and Flyaway, 106 days 
each; and Tornado, Red Rover, Don Quixote, and Mary L. Sutton, 
no days each. Records established included: Kathay, Anjier to Cape 


of Good Hope, 25 days; Flying Scud, New York to Marseilles, 19 days 
20 hours; Comet, the Equator to San Francisco, 12 days; Eagle Wing, 
Woosung to New York, 84 days; Mandarin, New York to Melbourne, 
70 days; Hurricane, Calcutta to England, 79 days; Golden West, coast 
of Japan to San Francisco, 20 days; Carrier Dove, Melbourne to Val- 
paraiso, 32 days; Great Republic, New York to the Equator, 15 days 
19 hours; and Onward, San Francisco to Singapore, 43 days. 

The Sunny South, whose builder, George Steers, died in 1856, plied 
back and forth between Brazilian ports and New York until 1859, 
after which she was purchased at Havana for $18,000, renamed the 
Emanuela, and employed in the African slave trade. On August 10, 
i860, she was captured in the Mozambique Channel by the British 
screw sloop-of-war Bris\. She had 800 slaves aboard. 

Medium Clipper Ship 



Built At 

Mystic, Conn. 

/c?0/VS<S< G/?/MNELL 


December 4, 1868 


Then owned in GLASGOW 


Length 220 feet 
Breadth 41-2 feet 
Depth 2 2-3 feet 
Tons 1679 

mi mm iw 


Sandy Hook to San Francisco pilot 89 days 4 hours. 
Liverpool to Sandy Hook 15 days.. 


California Clipper 

A he clipper-ship period in America, which had its inception in the 
silken trade of the East and was brought to its culmination in the 
golden trade of the West, ended — so far as shipbuilders were concerned 
— in the doldrums of 1857. 

The panic of that year has been attributed to various causes, and the 
close of the clipper-ship era has been attributed to various others, but 
since the boom days of the 1850's and the boom days of the clipper 
ships stretched across nearly a decade — not in parallel lines, but as 
threads closely interwoven — it seems logical to assume that the causes 
that terminated the one were those that terminated the other. 

When gold was discovered in California, a steady procession of ships, 
augmented year after year by the fast sailing clippers, sailed out of 
Atlantic ports, their decks black with prospective miners and settlers; 
and the same ships returned home with the results of the labors of those 
people — in other words, with gold. The gold, which was received at 
first in Eastern cities with wild rejoicing, was received, as it com- 
menced to flow more rapidly and in a widening stream, with some 
misgivings as well, and the fear was expressed, especially among credi- 
tors and the class that lived on fixed annuities, that the discoveries of 
such large amounts would result in the depreciation of the metal. In 
overcautious Holland gold ceased to be accepted as legal tender, and 
silver was made the only means of payment; but, elsewhere, the fear 
was translated into an anticipated skyrocketing of prices, followed by 

a frantic production of commodities, increased migration to the sources 




of the gold, mounting wages and scarcity of labor, accelerated buying 
and selling, the building of new ships and railroads, inordinate specu- 
lation in land and western properties, gambling of all sorts and 
pleasure-seeking, and the shipping of vast quantities of goods back 
and forth across the Atlantic and to California and Australia. The 
construction of railroads set up a need for European railroad iron and 
for foreign capital, in exchange for stocks and bonds and raw materials. 
The transportation of guano rose from 100,000 tons in 1849 to a yearly 
average of 200,000 tons between the years 1852 and 1857, and when 
the Crimean War broke out, followed by the Sepoy Mutiny, American 
pork, whiskey, gold, and ships were in particular demand and buying 
and selling across the Adantic was further enlivened. 

In the ten years between 1850 and i860 imports into the United 
States rose to nearly two billion dollars over the importations of the 
previous ten years (the one item of silks rose from $13,731,000 in 1850 
to $30,636,000 in 1854) and the foreign commercial debt rose from 
$166,000,000 in 1847 to $393,500,000 in 1857. Shipbuilding, during 
the boom period, increased as follows: 

Tons Built Sold Abroad 
1851 298,203 15,247 

l8 53 425.57 1 IO >°35 

1855 583449 65,887 

In 1857 expansion of all sorts came to an abrupt halt. Expenditure 
ceased, railroad building stopped, loans were called in and stocks were 
sold in an attempt to repay borrowed capital, stocks themselves dropped 
in value, European harvests were good and the prices of American 
produce therefore fell, freight rates dropped to $10 a ton, the Canadian 
reciprocity treaty reacted unfavorably and complaints were made that 
the influx of Canadian produce was ruining certain American markets, 
the Louisiana sugar crop failed and importations of sugar were made 
to the tune of fifty-five million dollars, banks that had run wild in the 
issuance of paper money began to fall, and, soon, business after business 
tumbled after. 


Some six hundred millions of dollars' worth of gold had been taken 
out of the mines of California and exchanged for goods, of which a 
large portion was European: the result was nil. Seven hundred and 
twenty millions of dollars had been spent in railroads, and another 
five hundred millions in land operations: the result was the opening 
up of the West and the supply of new fields for the pitched battles of 
politicians. Wages had been high, expenditures great, and business 
brisk: the result was the accumulation of capital in individual hands, 
unemployment when the stimulus ,to reinvestments ceased, panic for 
the masses, and — Civil War. 

Shipbuilding during 1857 dropped to 278,803 tons, of which 52,649 
tons were sold abroad; but most of the ships were either built in ful- 
fillment of orders that had been placed the year before, or were begun 
before the tocsin warned of the onward-sweeping state of affairs. The 
new clippers of the year — the last true clippers that were ever built in 
America — can be counted on the fingers of one hand, yet even the 
launching of these — in the face of the fact that dozens of the famous 
old flyers either were being robbed of their tall masts in the interests 
of economy or were lying idly by, waiting for cargoes that never came 
— had something of the stubborn, time-defying quality that charac- 
terized the passages of those ships of the year which were fortunate 
enough to be sent, cargo-laden, on their light-heeled way into the blue. 
Of the clipper ships that did go to California that year, no fewer than 
ten made passages of no days and under. The Great Republic, still 
under Captain Limeburner, rounded the Horn with skysails set, on 
her 92-day passage to San Francisco; the Westward Ho and the Morn- 
ing Star made the passage in 101 days each; the ships Andrew ]ac\son, 
Flying Dutchman, John Land, and Flying Dragon were 102 days 
each; the Flying Fish was 106 days; the Stag Hound 108 days, and the 
Reporter an even no. Records were made on other courses: the Sweep- 
stakes was 74 days from New York to Bombay, the Flying Mist 51 
days from Chile to Chesapeake Bay, the Edwin Forrest 64 days from 
Chincha Islands to Hampton Roads, and the Kathay 6 days from 

twilight: 237 

Hongkong to Bangkok. Over 82,489 tons of shipping were lost at sea 
during the year, but less than 2,000 tons represented clippers. 

The Twilight, last of the taunt-sparred clippers of America, was 
launched from the yards of Charles Mallory at Mystic, Connecticut, 
October 6, 1857. She is said to have been very beautiful, with gendy 
swelling convex lines, a fine run, handsome stern, and the figurehead 
of a woman in white holding a star in one hand and a torch in the 
other. She was built for Gates & Co. of Mystic, and measured : length 
over-all, 215 feet; beam, 40 feet 4 inches; depth of hold, 22 feet 7 
inches; tons register, 1,482; tons capacity, 2,500; dead-rise, 29 inches. 

Her career — twenty years pegged out partly in the dark days when 
American maritime news was shunted to the least important columns 
of the newspapers, and partly under foreign flags — can be summed up 
briefly. Until she was sold at Mystic in 1863, she was under the com- 
mand of Captain Gurdon Gates who had supervised her construction, 
and made four passages to San Francisco: the first in 100 days 2 hours 
(the best passage of 1858 on the Cape Horn route), the second in 114 
days in 1859, the third in 109 days in 1861, and the fourth in 137 days 
in 1862. She was thoroughly overhauled at the end of the fourth pas- 
sage, sold, and placed under the command of Captain Joseph Warren, 
who took her out to San Francisco twice thereafter. At the end of the 
second passage he sold to her Peru. From then on she knocked about 
in the guano and coolie trade for a number of years, changing her 
owners in rapid succession. At one time, when she was part of the 
fleet owned by the Maritima Company of Peru and vvas known as the 
Compania Maritima del Peru, No. 1, she had, as a sister ship in the 
same fleet, the extreme clipper ship, Telegraph, then known as the 
Compania Maritima del Peru, No. 2. At another time she sailed 
under the name Dom Pedro 1st and her owners were Portuguese, and 
at still another time, when she was owned at Costa Rica, she possessed 
the name Hermann. Under this last name, she was sold at auction at 
San Francisco in 1877, and shordy thereafter was broken up and 


* * * 


In the meantime the guns of the Civil War, like needles of hell, 
stitched with red the brown roads and green fields of the American 
countryside, but, after the initial blow to business, the wild-cat bank 
failures, the rise in prices and the hardship of becoming used to certain 
food adulterations, wave after wave of speculation and greed for money 
washed over the land, and out of the blood in the roads and fields 
there grew a bumper crop of greenbacks, shinplasters, and postal cur- 
rency. Fortunes were made out of the military trade as factories 
hummed and turned out "shoddy" to clothe the army, and pocket- 
books swelled to new dimensions as they stuffed themselves with the 
prices paid by the government for honest wool and leather. When the 
dull harvests of Britain brought about the downfall of "King Cotton" 
and created, instead, a demand for northern agricultural products, the 
South was forced to pay extortionate prices for bare necessities — $300 
for a barrel of flour, $150 for a pair of shoes — to wear homespun cloth- 
ing, and to sleep under blankets made from the moss of the seaboard. 
But the smuggler and the embargo-runner became affluent, and the 
manufacturers of reapers, horse-rakes, and mowers harvested the dol- 
lars as they sold their products to replace the brawn that marched 
from the farms to the fields of battle. The Homestead Act attracted 
new settlers to the country and more money was made from the pit- 
tances these people brought with them; the discovery of the rich Corn- 
stock Lode reproduced in Colorado the old California scenes of drunk- 
enness, crime and profligacy; abundant yields of coal, iron-ore, copper, 
salt, and oil created further fortunes; high prices for whiskey and 
quantity consumption of beer helped the breweries; the meat-packing 
business, brought to its feet by the closing of the Mississippi, forged its 
way into the ranks of the big-time industries; buildings rose in the 
North as they fell in the South, railroads were extended, and many 
cities, for the first time, became familiar with street-cars; small time, 
corrupt politicians, bribe-takers, and bounty-jumpers rolled in wealth; 
men gambled and women shopped; Tom Thumb's wedding at Grace 
Church was translated into a leading social event; and the racetracks, 


theaters, operas, minstrel shows, Barnum's Museum, and Amberg's 
Menagerie were thronged with people. 

The New York Evening Post asked, "Are there no enterprises open 
to these men of fortune which would benefit the country as well as 
themselves?" And the London Times said, "There is something sad- 
dening, indeed revolting, in the high glee, real or affected, with which 
the people look upon what ought to be, at any rate, a grievous national 
calamity." In the long run, however, England herself made the greatest 
gains. When the war was over, she was once more the undisputed 
mistress of all the liquid highways upon which had once been written 
the terms of American prosperity. 

During the period from i860 to 1864 America imported nearly a 
billion and a half dollars' worth of goods, of which a large portion 
represented luxury products, and exported an amount valued at nearly 
three hundred millions under the import figure; though only a small 
amount of the merchandise represented in the transactions was car- 
ried in American vessels. 

In 1858 — shortly before Scott Russell and Isambard Kingdom Brunei 
launched Britain's 30,000-ton steam-vessel Great Eastern and a year 
before England created Samuel Cunard a baronet in reward for his 
services — Southern opposition and the stubborn belief on the part of a 
few Northerners that steam would never wholly supplant sail, suc- 
ceeded in bringing about the termination of the subsidy grant enjoyed 
by the Collins Line; and in April the last of the Collins ships went 
under the auctioneer's hammer to bidders in England. During the war, 
America had no steamships on the transatlantic route, and, in the space 
of five years, nearly 5,000 vessels of all types went out of commission. 
The Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and other Confederate privateers 
caught and burned 284 vessels, including the clipper ships Southern 
Cross, Contest, Jacob Bell, Winged Racer, Golden Eagle, Anglo-Saxon, 
Dictator, B. F. Hoxie, Red Gauntlet, and Morning Light, and ship- 
owners were frightened into transferring nearly a thousand other ves- 
sels, many of them clippers, to foreign flags. 

When shipbuilding was resumed in the United States, in the midst 


of distressing conditions after the war, horse-racing and baseball — the 
latter sport introduced at several colleges during wartime — had already 
replaced the great sailing-ship interest of the 1850's; and money, for 
investment purposes, was attracted to the coasting trade rather than 
to the sea. Iron was accepted as a definite improvement over wood for 
shipbuilding purposes; but, because of American tariff charges, the 
United States was at a disadvantage compared with Great Britain, and 
the Navigation Laws prevented her from buying ships in countries 
where labor and materials were cheaper. Wooden shipbuilding, in large 
part, moved to the Lakes, where ship plank that cost $60 at Boston 
could be had for $20 and spars that were $100 could be purchased 
for $40. 

America never afterwards regained that sea-mastery which Had been 
hers for that brief period of her entire career when her packets and 
clipper ships were the idols of the seas. The packets were driven from 
the transatlantic route by the steamer, and though the model of the 
clipper ship, formed for speed, solved a few problems in fast sailing 
that had tortured the minds of naval architects for years, it was dis- 
carded after it had ceased to have a legitimate use. Steamships, rail- 
roads, and canals cut through the gordian knot of Time. The clipper 
ships, with all their tall spars, their outstretched wings, their amazing 
beauty, had only defied it. 

After the Twilight was destroyed in 1877, no fewer than forty-four 
American clippers were still employed, and in the 1890's the Sea Ser- 
pent, Malay, Rattler, Competitor, Dashing Wave, David Crockett, 
Herald of the Morning, Brewster, Mary Whitridge, Expounder, N. B. 
Palmer, Nightingale, Syren, and Wild Pigeon were still in existence. 
One by one they disappeared from the shipping lists, until in 1920 
only the barge Dashing Wave and the Syren were left. That year the 
former vessel went ashore at Seymour Narrows while on her way with 
a load of cannery supplies for the Alaskan plant of Libby, McNeil & 
Libby. The Syren — her rig changed to that of a barque and her name 


to Margarida — was still in existence at that time. She had been built 
in 1 85 1 by John Taylor, of Medford, and her long life is one more 
refutation of the statement that Americans were not careful builders. 
When she passed, something more than the last physical evidence 
of American clipper-ship building went with her. There passed also 
the last symbol of the day when America was a young sea-going 
nation, forward-looking, and — above all — ready to build, while the 
graybeards were nodding their heads over the sailing qualities of a 
few lines scrawled upon paper. 

%ed jacket: 

Australian Clipper 

J_ he discovery of gold in California, and its aftermath, was part and 
parcel of the American scene — mad, unpredictable. But when Edward 
Hammond Hargreaves, acting upon the advice of James Marshall, 
departed from California to dig for gold in Australia — and found it in 
February, 1851, at Summerhill Creek in the Macquarie plains — Eng- 
land, having had no time to anticipate the strike and justly worried 
over the future of the rich Australian crops, did not approve. However, 
when the inevitable stimulus to her shipping came and the gold began 
to arrive in London and Liverpool, she permitted herself to smile over 
the stories of gentlemen sheep-farmers, who were unable to get men 
to shear their sheep save for the price of all the wool and who were, 
in turn, offered fifteen shillings a day to cook for the shearers; and she 
rejoiced, via the Illustrated London News, that "the full tide of emigra- 
tion, which has of late been diverted by the gold discoveries from the 
United States, and even California, has, by setting in for our own settle- 
ments in the Pacific, given a wonderful impetus to the Australian trade, 
which has become of a profitable character to the shipowner, and by 
which so much employment is now given to the ship-builders, ship- 
carpenters, ship-smiths, block and rope-makers, sail-makers, ship store- 
dealers, coopers, and the various other trades employed in promoting 
the vast human traffic now carried on to Australia." 

In one other particular, in addition to the difference in the reception 
of the news of the discovery, did English gold and American gold offer 

a striking contrast. James Marshall, hounded from home to home by 


%ed Jacket 


squatters and diggers, and his name used for a dozen fraudulent 
schemes, died in poverty and nearly insane. Hargreaves, almost imme- 
diately after his first lucky strike, was made head of the Sydney branch 
of the British Australian Mining Company — established for the pur- 
pose of working the most eligible portions of the goldfields; he became 
immensely wealthy, and was honored by both England and Australia as 
a prime benefactor of the British Empire. 

Licenses to dig for gold were issued in September, 1851, and in the 
following month the first vessel to carry Australian gold to the British 
Isles took her departure from Sydney with ^80,000 worth of the metal, 
and a letter, dated nth November, in her mail bag, saying: 

"Operations at the gold mines continue to be carried on with great 
spirit and general success, notwithstanding occasional drawbacks. 
^20,000 worth of gold finds its way weekly into town by the govern- 
ment escort, and thence on board ship, with the utmost regularity. New 
diggings are being discovered every day. The largest specimen I have 
handled weighed 82 ounces, and the allowance for quartz did not ex- 
ceed 2 ounces, leaving 80 ounces of solid gold in a lump 6 inches long 
by 3 inches broad, and i l / 2 inches thick. Come over and help us, some 
of you starving people of the old country!" 

The little vessel was the 478-ton clipper-built barque Phoenician, 
one of the Sydney packets belonging to the fleet owned by Marshall & 
Eridge, and built by Messrs. Walter Hood and Co., of Aberdeen. Her 
measurements were: length of cut keel, 122 feet; rake of stem, 25 feet; 
rake on sternpost, 7 feet; extreme breadth, 27 feet 5 inches; depth of 
hold, 19 feet 1 inch; capacity, 780 tons deadweight. Her passages — 
which cut, with the sweet cleanliness of speed, through the long 120- 
day voyages of the dirty, badly ventilated, immigrant "coffin ships" — 
were made as follows: London to Sydney, 90 days in 1849, 96 days 
in 1850, 90 days in 1851 ; Sydney to London, 88 days in 1850, 103 days 
in 1851, 83 days in 1852. The round voyage in 1852 was made in 
seven and a half months. Her passage of 83 days home in 1852 was con- 
sidered the record until broken, later in the year, by the 78-day run 
made by the Eagle from Sydney to the Downs. 


The passages of the little Hood-built clipper-barque brought forth 
the statement from a correspondent to the Times that "when the facts 
are duly considered, it will no longer be contended that the American 
clippers have any just claim to be considered the fastest sailers, or as 
worthy of a preference over British ships like the Phoenician." But, 
unfortunately for British pride and fortunately for British incentive, 
shipbuilding in the Isles did not keep pace with the exodus from the 
Isles — augmented by such arrangements as the sale of Crown lands 
in Australia for the purpose of paying the passages of desirable immi- 
grants — and the better-known Lines, such as James Baines's Black Ball 
Line and the White Star Line of Messrs. Pilkington, Wilson & Cham- 
bers, were compelled to charter American-built vessels to tempt the 
luxury overflow. 

Among the American ships chartered by the latter Line were the 
Blue Jacket, Chariot of Fame, and the Red Jacket, all three of which 
had notable careers. The Blue Jacket, the last of the trio built, was a 
product of the yards of Robert E. Jackson of East Boston. She was 1,790 
tons, with magnificent appointments, and a speed that took her, on 
the Boston-Liverpool run, from land to land in 12 days 10 hours, and 
enabled her to beat the initial passages of the fast-sailing clippers Red 
Jacket, Lightning, Donald McKay, Champion of the Seas, and Sov- 
ereign of the Seas on the Liverpool-to-Melbourne route. The Chariot 
of Fame, a. 2,050-ton clipper built by Donald McKay, was originally 
an Enoch Train & Co. White Diamond packet, but after her purchase 
by the White Star Line she made the best passage of her career — 66 
days from Liverpool to Melbourne. 

The Red Jacket, modeled by Pook and built by George Thomas at 
Rockland, Maine, was a vessel of very lovely rounding lines, with sharp 
ends and a long flat floor. She was originally owned by Seccomb & 
Taylor — also the original owners of the Blue Jacket — and measured: 
length, 251 feet 2 inches; breadth, 44 feet; depth of hold, 31 feet; 
tons register, 2,305. The Blue Jacket's figurehead, washed up on Aus- 
tralian shores several years after she caught fire and was abandoned 
off the Falklands in 1869, was that of a sailor; the Red Jacket's was 

%ED JACKE% 245 

a full-length wooden carving of the Indian chief Sagoyewatha, who, 
because of his friendliness toward Britain during the American War 
of Independence, had been given a red coat by a British officer. 

The maiden passage of the Red ]ac\et is one of the most famous in 
the annals of American-built clipper ships : the all-time, record-smash- 
ing run, made in wintry weather and once crowding 413 miles into 
a single day, from New York to Liverpool, dock to dock, in 13 days 
1 hour 25 minutes. The dates were January 10 to January 23, 1854. 
Captain Asa Eldridge was in command. Exactly two years, to the day, 
after the Red ]ac\et arrived at Liverpool, Captain Eldridge sailed from 
the same port in command of the Collins steamship Pacific. Some- 
where on the passage westward the ship was lost; and the fate of her 
captain, her crew, her passengers, and her two-million-dollar cargo 
remains one of the unsolved mysteries of the sea. 

At Liverpool, the Red ]ac\et was coppered for the first time and was 
chartered by the White Star Line for a passage thence to Melbourne — 
a passage which she made, commanded by Captain Samuel Reid, in 
69 days 11 hours 25 minutes, including the swift and unequaled run 
of 19 days from the meridian of the Cape to her destination. She was 
twelve days in port, loaded 45,000 ounces of gold, and out again. Twenty 
days later, covered with ice, she was dodging icebergs off the Horn, 
and 73 days after her departure from Melbourne was at Liverpool, 
where she was purchased, for ^30,000, by the White Star Line. Dur- 
ing the remaining years of the 'fifties she continued in the Australia- 
to-England trade, making one passage, under Captain Milward, of 86 
days from Melbourne in 1855, and another, under Captain Kirkby, 
of 80 days. On this last passage she took her departure from Melbourne 
on the 10th of September, 1859, and was at Pernambuco 30 days later. 
On Tuesday, November 29, she was in the Mersey with a cargo of 
40,000 ounces of gold. Some time during the late 'sixties, after nearly 
a decade of passages to Calcutta and elsewhere, she was sold to en- 
gage in carrying timber from Quebec to London, and in the 'eighties 
was shunted off to the Cape Verde Islands to enter into service as a 
coal hulk. 


In 1867 the White Star Line was taken over by Messrs. Ismay, Imrie 
& Co. and the wooden sailing ships were succeeded by a number of fast 
iron vessels. In 1871 the scarlet burgee with its white five-pointed star 
was placed over the steamships Oceanic, Baltic, Republic, Atlantic, and 
Adriatic, and White Star ships, for the first time, became familiar 
sights on the North Atlantic. 

In spite of the fact that the White Star house flag was borrowed 
from a fleet of graceful, swiftly traveling clippers, this line was one of 
the first to deal a death-blow to many of the old sailing-ship traditions. 
When the Oceanic was built, her main saloon was placed in the middle 
length of the ship rather than in the customary after-end, and, in 1889, 
when the mercantile cruisers Majestic and Teutonic were added to 
the fleet, the world was treated to its first sight of ocean-going liners 
without sails, and passengers were treated to the new sensation of 
crossing the Atlantic propelled by steam-power alone. 


*,?Z& r ™ p RED JACKET f£%* d Mam , 

Bmlt b/Gtorge Thomas Designed by PooK Roc h/and, Maine 

Register 2,006 tons Drawn from Hall's Report Displacement 3,001 tons gross 

Lenqth between Beam moulded 4-2 H. feet 

perpendiculars 251 4feet Deprh moulded 26 feet 

Lower plans O or" upper plans 

Clipper Barque 


Australian Clipper 

V/ne of the first fairly large ship-rigged clippers to engage in the 
Australian trade was a Canadian-built vessel, constructed by James 
Smith at Marsh Creek, New Brunswick, in 1850. This was the Marco 
Polo, the pioneer liner of the famous Black Ball Fleet owned by James 
Baines of Liverpool. Baines, an impetuous little red-haired man, the 
son of a confectioner, saw the Marco Polo shortly after her first Adantic 
crossing, from Memphis to Liverpool, in 1851. He admired her lines, 
which, above water, gave little indication of the potential speed which 
her clipperly underwater body possessed, and offered all the money 
he had for her (together with some he had borrowed) and, surprisingly 
enough, secured her for a figure that was ridiculously low. She was 
then refitted, placed under the command of Captain James Nicol 
Forbes — a pious, hard-hitting, damn-your-eyes Scotsman — and sent 
out, loaded with passengers and the mails, to Australia. 

In appearance the Polo was very packet-like, with the false gun- 
ports that gave so many of those ships a dashing, man-of-war air. She 
lacked the graceful sheer that characterized the clippers of the United 
States, but her ends were very sharp, and her sailing qualities were 
sufficient to gain for James Baines an instant reputation for being one 
of the shrewdest judges of a ship in the British Isles. She had three 
decks, and her measurements — 185 x 38 x 30, 1,625 tons — contrast in- 
terestingly with those of the American clippers Nightingale and 

Westward Ho. The first, also a ship of 185 feet in length, was 559 tons 




smaller; the second, of practically the same tonnage, was 25 feet 
longer; but the Polo was nearly 10 feet deeper in the hold. 

On July 4, 1 85 1, the Marco Polo took her departure from Liverpool 
and was soon flying down to Melbourne to make a full-fledged ship- 
owner out of the Liverpool boy who had been so attracted to her, and 
to bring home the beginning of the riches and reputation that were to 
preface a meteoric rise to fame. She made the trip out in the then 
unparalleled time of 68 days — ten days less than the 1853 passage of 
the Sovereign of the Seas, and only five days over the all-time record- 
run on the Liverpool-to-Melbourne route. Her passage home in 74 
days, although lowered by a good margin later, seemed at the time 
almost astonishingly fast. On the outward passage she had beaten the 
Australian (the first steamship to carry the mails from England to 
Melbourne) by seven days, and, after her return, and another departure, 
and another six months' run around the globe, she had established 
her owner's reputation so securely that funds were never afterwards 
lacking for any shipping venture in which James Baines wished to 

In the years 1853 and 1854 Baines made two more brilliant moves. 
The first was to place an order with Donald McKay for four ships to 
be built expressly for him, and the second was to purchase two new 
ships that Donald McKay had built to operate for himself. These 
moves, which because of their magnitude were looked upon, at the time, 
as somewhat mad, were extremely shrewd — pardy because traffic be- 
tween England and Australia did not abate for years, and partly be- 
cause the dismal failure of the steamships of the Australian Royal Mail 
Steam Company (a company founded in 1852 on large grants of 
public money) to make the desired speed on the long route to Aus- 
tralia left the field entirely clear to the rivalries of sailing vessels. Since 
speed to Australia was as important as it was to California in the 1850's, 
the fact that Baines chose to place his orders where he did speaks 
volumes for Donald McKay. 

The first clipper built in the East Boston yards to the order of James 
Baines & Co. was the superbly designed Lightning, a ship whose dimen- 


sions were said to be greater than those of any merchant sailing vessel 
owned in Liverpool at the time. She was 2,084 tons register and meas- 
ured: length, 243 feet; breadth, 42 feet 8 inches; depth, 23 feet. Her 
dead-rise, eleven feet from the keel, was 20 inches; sheer, 4% feet. 
She had two decks with a height of y l / 2 feet between, and a poop deck 
which was later built over to form a third deck. Her ends were very 
sharp, probably the sharpest ever put on an American clipper; the sea 
washed fully sixteen inches into the deepest portion of her hollow 
bow, and from thence rounded away gradually to permit the passage 
of her midship body, and closed in again with ease against the diminish- 
ing roundness of her stern. Below, she was very much cut away in the 
neighborhood of her forefoot and heel, so that she practically rested 
upon her midship body in the water, and pivoted around, without grip- 
ping, when being turned about from one tack to the other. Save for a 
note of giltwork about the stern, and at the stem the figure of a young 
woman in white holding a symbolic thunderbolt, she was devoid of 
all ornament, and depended, for attention, upon the simple beauty of 
her own powerful lines. 

A little over a month after her launching on January 3, 1854, the 
Boston Atlas gave a minute account of the ship, including the fol- 
lowing description of the arrangement of her houses and interior: 

"The whole height of her bulwarks is 7 feet, and she has a full top- 
gallant forecastle, which extends to the fore rigging, and its deck is 
connected with the top of a house, which is continued aft, and is 48 
feet long, and 19 wide at the after end. The top of the house is con- 
nected with the poop by two gangways, so that the men can pass for- 
ward and aft, without descending into the waist. She has a full poop 
deck 90 feet long, the outline of which is protected by a mahogany 
rail, on turned stanchions of the same wood. 

"There is a spacious house over the wheel, designed, in part, for a 
smoking room, and it also protects a staircase on the starboard side, 
which leads to the captain's stateroom and after cabin. The after cabin 
is 34 feet long, 12 wide, and 7 high, and is wainscotted with mahogany, 
enamel, polished ash and other fancy woods, relieved with rosewood 
pillars, papier mache cornices, and flowered gilding. It has 4 state- 


rooms, 2 sofa recesses, and other apartments, a splendid sofa aft, rich 
carpeting, a circular marble table in each recess, and a mahogany 
extension table amidships. All the staterooms are furnished differendy, 
for the sake of variety, we suppose, and their furniture is of the choicest 
kind, arranged with consummate skill. Every stateroom has a square 
window in the side, and a perforated ventilator between the beams, 
so that, for light and air, all has been done that could be desired. There 
are 4 stern windows, and a large oblong square light in the after cabin, 
and similar skylights over the dining saloon, which is connected with 
the after cabin. The skylights are set in mahogany frames, and nearly 
all the windows are of stained glass. In the recesses and partitions of 
the after cabin, there are plate glass mirrors, which give reflected views 
of every part of the cabin. A more beautiful cabin or one more richly 
furnished we have never seen. 

"The dining saloon, which leads from it, is also wainscotted, is 
painted pure white, like enamel, and is tastefully relieved with gilded 
mouldings and flower work. It is 48 feet long, 13 feet wide aft, and 
14 forward, and has a large mahogany table its whole length, with 
settees along the sides. It has spacious staterooms and other apartments 
on each side, its whole length, and these rooms are admirably de- 
signed for the accommodation of families. In richness of furniture, 
light, and ventilation, they are equal to those in the after cabin. At 
the forward partition there is a costly sideboard of marble, and rising 
from it is a large mirror. Another mirror and sofa ornaments the 
after part, so that the saloon is reflected from both sides. 

"The chief officer's stateroom is on the starboard side, forward, and 
the pantry opposite, and between these are two doors, which lead to the 
quarter deck. The front of the poop deck projects about 5 feet, and 
shelters the entrance to the saloon. 

"The accommodations for her second class passengers are in the 
house before the main hatchway, which has an entrance amidships, 
aft. It is 36 feet long and has a passage amidships, 5 feet wide, which 
leads to 6 staterooms on each side, and these rooms are well lighted 
and well ventilated, and tastefully furnished. The forward part of this 
house contains the galley, and before it, on each side, are staircases 
which lead to the between decks. Her crew's accommodations are 
under the topgallant forecastle, and are neatly fitted up. 

"The between decks are designed for the accommodation of passen- 
gers, and have 10 plate glass ports on each side, skylights and venti- 


lators along the sides of the house above, so that they are well supplied 
with light and ventilation, and will be fitted up in superior style, 
when the ship arrives in Liverpool.* 

"As the top of the house projects 3 feet on each side, a water proof 
awning will be spread from it to the rails, so as to shelter the waist, 
that the passengers may always have an opportunity of coming on 
deck without exposure to wet weather. 

"Her accommodations forward and aft are upon a liberal scale, and 
are most admirably designed for health, comfort and safety." 

The Lightning loaded in Enoch Train's Line for Liverpool, and on 
February 18, 1854, took her departure from Boston, with "Bully" 
Forbes as commander and Lauchlan McKay as a passenger. Her pas- 
sage from Boston Light to Rock Light, Liverpool, was made in 13 
days 20 hours, and, although this run was some hours longer than 
the record passage of the Red Jacket made in January, the Lightning's 
best 24-hour run of 436 miles smashed all existing records for fast 
traveling by sail, and continued to be the record for a quarter of a cen- 
tury before it was equaled by steam. This run, which was recorded 
on her eleventh day out, during which time a gale carried away her 
jib and foretopsail, was 23 miles faster than the fastest day's run logged 
by the Red Jacket on her first ocean crossing, and fifteen miles faster 
than that of the Sovereign of the Seas on her memorable run of March 
18, 1853. 

The Lightning began her Australian voyages on May 14, 1854, and 
continued sailing between Liverpool and Melbourne, without cessa- 
tion, until the fall of 1857. Her passages during these three years were 
as follows: 

Year Liverpool to Melbourne Melbourne to Liverpool 

1854 77 days (best day 348 miles) 64 days 3 hours (best 

day 412 miles) 
1854-5 73 days (best day 390 miles) 79 days 

* The Lightning cost £30,000 to build. The sum of £2,000 was spent on additional 
fittings when she arrived at Liverpool, where she was also coppered. 



i8 55 -6 

81 days 

63 days 


68 days 10 hours 

84 days (Port Phillip 
Heads to Point Lynas) 


69 days 6 hours (to Port 

82 days (from Port 

Phillip Heads) 

Phillip Heads) 

When the Lightning returned from Melbourne on October 23 at 
the close of her first passage out, Captain Forbes left her to take com- 
mand of the new British-built clipper Schomberg, and Captain An- 
thony Enright, formerly of the tea-clipper Chrysolite, succeeded to his 
command. The Schomberg, a large vessel of 2,600 tons, built with 
the intention of defeating American clippers, was lost 81 days out on 
her maiden voyage. Her captain, crew, and passengers were saved. 

Since the first two runs of the Lightning to and from Melbourne 
were fast but were not necessarily world-beaters (with the exception 
of the run home in 1854), the sides of her hollow bow were filled 
with oak sheathing before the occasion of her third outward passage. 
The idea was to improve her sailing qualities. The filling on one side 
washed away on the outward passage, and at the end of the voyage 
the filling on the other side was removed. On the passage home, fa- 
vored by the best sailing conditions of her career, she established the 
all-time record run of 63 days from Melbourne to Liverpool, and there- 
after no further attempts were made to alter her lines. In August, 
1857, having been chartered by the British Government to transport 
troops to India during the Sepoy Mutiny, she took her departure from 
Portsmouth and made the remarkably fast passage of 87 days to Sand 
Heads. When she returned to England she was placed once more on 
the Australian route, where she remained until the close of her career. 

On October 31, 1869, she caught fire at the wharf at Geelong, Mel- 
bourne Harbour, and it was necessary to tow her into the stream and 
scuttle her. She was owned, then, by Thomas Harrison, of Liverpool, 
who had purchased her in 1867. Her last commander was Captain 
Henry Jones. 


Drawn from Photograph of Model 
In The Public Museums Liverpool 



18 34 

Built at 

East Boston 


Donald Mc/(a y 

drawn from 



Register, tons 2^084 Gross tons 2>367 

Length 243 feet Length on load-line 225 ft 

Beam moulded 42% feet Depth moulded 25 ft 


Australian Clippers 

J_ he Lightning had but recently completed her maiden crossing to 
England and was loading for Australia, when the second of the McKay 
clippers destined for James Baines & Co. slid down the ways to a tumult 
of shouting and closed with the sea in a fountain of liquid light. In 
less than ninety days after, the third of the group made her initial 
splash and, six months later, the last and largest of the quartette was 

These new ships — the Lightning, the Champion of the Seas, the 
James Baines, and the Donald McKay — with their sleek black sides, 
immaculate decks, and bright blue waterways, formed one of the hand- 
somest fleets of merchant vessels in the world in their time, and it is 
no wonder that, when they arrived one by one at Liverpool, each 
vessel larger and more stately than her predecessor, British eyes mar- 
veled at their beauty, and that, finally, the fame of these celebrities 
within the Empire should have mounted upward until it reached even 
the royal ears of the Queen. 

The Champion of the Seas, launched on April 19, 1854, was some 
360 tons larger than the Lightning, and, although she was similar in 
appearance to the smaller vessel, her ends were shorter and her bows 
more convex — two facts which must have tended to mar her sailing 
qualities, since she was never noted for exceptional speed. Whatever 
she lacked in swiftness, however, she made up in comfort and spa- 
ciousness, and as an emigrant vessel she was always a popular member 

of the fleet. Her figurehead was that of a Sunday sailor, with his hat 



in his right hand and his left hand extended. Another figure of a 
sailor boy, painted in realistic colors, supported the binnacle in his 
hands. The stern, semi-elliptical in form, was ornamented with the 
arms of Australia. She measured: length of keel, 238 feet; length 
between perpendiculars, 252 feet; breadth, 45 feet 6 inches; depth, 29 
feet 2 inches; tons register, 2,447 (American), 1,947 (British); dead- 
rise, 18 inches; and small sheer of 4% feet. Her first commander was 
Captain Alexander Newlands, who crossed from England to super- 
vise her construction and equipment. 

The Champion was towed from Boston to New York and sailed 
from the latter city on June 16, arriving at Liverpool — after a weary 
crossing of 29 days with light winds all the way — on the 15th of July. 
Ten days later the superbly designed James Baines was launched and, 
before the Champion had taken her departure for Australia, the 
Baines was at Liverpool. She was a handsome vessel, with a figurehead 
carving of Mr. Baines, and a round, beautiful stern, ornamented with 
a bas-relief globe between the arms of England and of America. Her 
spacious accommodations for passengers, and the fine woods, gilt, and 
stained glass used in her interior decorations, contrasted strangely — as 
did those of all the Black Ball clippers — with the corresponding fea- 
tures of the usual immigrant vessels on the Liverpool-to-Melbourne 
route. These latter vessels, making their outward passages in from 
three to four months and coming home in approximately the same 
time, were exceedingly plain. The sleeping accommodations for all 
single women were aft, of all married people amidships, and of all 
single men forward. The dining-halls were furnished simply with 
long benches and tables, and were divided into classes or schools — 
Scotch, English, and Irish. The arrangements of the Baines, on the 
other hand, included a large house abaft the foremast, containing gal- 
leys, staterooms, storerooms, ice-room, and staircase to the deck below; 
on the poop deck the ladies' cabin, usually of beautiful appointments, 
dining-room, bathroom, smoking-room, and other compartments; 
twenty-four gendemen's sleeping apartments on the main deck, open- 
ing off a large general cabin; and accommodations for second-class 

James 'Balnes and Qhampion of the Seas 


passengers, on the main deck and on the deck below, ventilated amid- 
ships by trunk skylights, and amply lighted. The height of each of 
her between-decks was jY 2 feet. She was very heavily sparred and 
originally spread about 13,000 yards of canvas in a single suit of sails. 
When she took her departure from Boston she carried a skysail on the 
mainmast only, but in 1857 she was reported with sky sails on all three 
masts, in addition to a main moonsail and skysail studdingsails — thus 
increasing her number of sails to thirty-four. Her measurements were: 
266 feet over-all; 49 feet 9 inches breadth of beam; 29 feet depth of 
hold. Tons register: American, 2,515; British, 2,275. Dead-rise, 18 

While the Baines was at Liverpool being coppered and having addi- 
tional furnishings added to her lower decks, the Champion set sail for 
Melbourne. On Christmas Day, 1854, she entered that port in company 
with the clipper ship Swallow. Her passage of 75 days was two days 
shorter than the initial Australian run of the Lightning, but on the 
whole it was disappointing. The Swallow had made the passage in 73 
days 18 hours from Gravesend, and, temporarily, the sailing qualities 
of the McKay clippers were in eclipse. Or they were, at least, until the 
James Baines came romping in, commanded by Captain Charles Mc- 
Donnell, with 1,400 tons of cargo and 700 passengers, in the record- 
smashing time of 63 days — land to land, 58 days. 

Captain McDonnell, who had succeeded to the command of the 
Marco Polo after Captain Forbes took the Lightning, had, during his 
days as first officer aboard the Polo, proven an apt pupil. He took 
the Baines home in 69 % days, following upon the Champion's return 
in 84 days, and on June 18, 1856, on another passage to Melbourne, 
reported his ship "taking out 21 knots" — the highest known rate of 
speed ever logged by a sailing vessel. 

Meanwhile, the Donald McKay, launched in January, 1855, was 
added to the Black Ball fleet, and the gold-ships Commodore Perry 
and Great Tasmania were purchased by Baines while they lay on 
the stocks. All of these ships were quite large. The Donald McKay, a 
ship of 2,594 tons > 1S sa id to nave na d more dead-weight carrying 


capacity than the Great Republic, having been designed with more 
spread of floor and fuller ends. She was fitted with Howes double- 
topsails and had nearly upright masts. During her years of service she 
was a popular cargo- and passenger-carrier, but never proved to be 
exceptionally fast. 

All these Black Ball ships, with the exception of the McKay, were 
chartered by the British Government to transport troops to India dur- 
ing the Sepoy Mutiny, and it was while the James Baines and Cham- 
pion of the Seas lay at Portsmouth that Queen Victoria — having had 
her curiosity aroused about the ships by enthusiastic comments in the 
public journals and reports from the authorities — visited them in com- 
pany with the Prince Consort, the Princess Royal, and Prince Alfred. 

On August 8, 1857, the Champion and the Baines, each with about 
1,000 men aboard, sailed from Portsmouth, followed (on the 25th) by 
the Lightning with about 650 men and officers of the 7th Hussars, 
to join in the race in which all the transport ships (sailing ships, full- 
powered screw steamers, and auxiliary steamers) were competing. The 
Lightning arrived out on the 87th day in company with the Champion, 
101 days on the passage, and the Baines arrived two days later. With 
the exception of the McKay ships, the average passage of the sailing 
transports was 120 days. The average passage of the full-powered screw 
steamers was 83 days, and that of the auxiliaries 93%. 

Upon their arrival home, the McKay ships, with the exception of 
the fames Baines and Great Tasmania, resumed their places in the 
Black Ball service. The Baines, at Liverpool on April 16, 1858, at the 
termination of a fast passage of 77 days from Sand Heads, began to 
discharge her Indian cargo at the Huskisson Docks. All seemed well 
until the 22nd, when a thin column of smoke was seen to curl upward 
from the main hatch, followed by so great a blaze that it was necessary 
to scuttle her immediately. Her wreck was sold at auction for £ 1,080, 
and she was later converted into a landing stage for steamer passengers 
at Liverpool. Fire, which was the nemesis of the McKay ships, and 
which was to overtake the Commodore Perry also, destroyed the third 


clipper of nine that were thus lost when it burned the James Baines 
to the water's edge. 

The arrival home, in i860, of the Great Tasmania was enveloped 
in equally tragic circumstances; one that was in bitter contrast to the 
gala day when Queen Victoria stepped aboard the flag-dressed Cham- 
pion and Baines and, after a round of the decks, made a personal exam- 
ination of the dry and meat provisions supplied for her troops. 
Charles Dickens, in The Uncommercial Traveller, has sketched his 
impressions of "The Great Tasmania's Cargo"; the Illustrated London 
News also describes it: 

"The Great Tasmania arrived at Liverpool on Thursday week 
[March 15, i860] with discharged soldiers from India. Out of 1000 
embarked, sixty died during the passage from dysentery and scurvy, 
and 100 were landed in such a state that they were obliged to be taken 
in cars to the workhouse, when it was found that one of the poor 
fellows had died on the way. The men complain loudly of bad treat- 
ment, and attribute their condition to the want of hammocks and 
proper provisions. Four more men have since died. The ship is one of 
the Black Ball line clippers, belonging to Messrs. Baines. It has been 
stated that a searching investigation will be instituted by the Indian 
authorities. An inquest on the unhappy victims has been opened at 
Liverpool. The disclosures were of a most painful nature, and proved, 
somewhere, there must have been the grossest dereliction of duty. Four 
days after the vessel left Calcutta the beef was found to be in a putrid 
state, smelling so offensively when cooked that it had to be thrown 
overboard; the beer was sour and undrinkable; the vinegar and lime- 
juice — important preservatives against scurvy — were diluted and adul- 
terated ; the preserved vegetables were sodden and pulpy, and emitted 
a disgusting odor; the suet stank; the water was black and rusty; and 
the biscuit was so utterly unfit for human food, being not only mouldy 
and maggoty, that 36,000 lbs. were condemned, the greater portion 
being thrown into the sea, while that which was retained was kept 
only to serve as ballast. The Great Tasmania's stores have been exam- 
ined since her arrival in the Mersey, and two naval officers and other 
competent witnesses declared the bread and beef, in particular, to be 
extremely bad. The hospital stores were deficient, and, notwithstand- 
ing that the ship had on board about one thousand men, the hospital 


contained only thirty-six beds. Ten per cent of the men, it appears, 
were ill when they left India; but, said Dr. Gee, 'had proper food 
been supplied to them, they would not have been so bad as they were 
at present; bad food, bad accommodation, and deficient ventilation 
were the principal causes of diseases and death on board.' ' 

The Great Tasmania was eventually renamed the Japan and passed 
to new owners. Two days before her arrival at Liverpool with her 
cargo of troops, twenty-five guineas per cent were paid at Lloyd's 
to effect fresh insurance on her sister ship, the Commodore Perry, 
then long overdue from Australia. On the following day, March 14, 
the Perry herself arrived at Portsmouth, 118 days from Melbourne, 
with a cargo of gold valued at ^58,000 and 5,601 bales of wool. 

It was at this time, also, that reports began to be received in Lon- 
don of troublesome conditions in Australia — of mercantile panic, over- 
stocked warehouses, an unwillingness on the part of banks to advance 
money, and the failure of many business houses. In time, of course, 
these conditions righted themselves, but the big boom from 1850 
to 1858, which had increased the population and swelled the import 
figures, was definitely at an end. The days of mad, fat living were 
over. Miners no longer swallowed sandwiches of bread, butter, and 
five-pound notes or hired chaise carts to load their gold. But the 
cry of the newspapers of 1851 and 1852 "that the flocks and herds 
are left untended, that all the available population has drafted itself 
ofT to the mines, that the sheep remain unshorn, that an amount of 
property in wool alone worth far more than all the gold yet obtained 
has been lost to the colonies, and that, unless a large supply of men, 
women and children be immediately sent out, and followed at regular 
intervals by other supplies as large and continuous, the noblest colony 
ever possessed by any empire, and one of the noblest countries in the 
world, will be totally ruined, notwithstanding its gold" — this cry, 
witH its attendant cry, "What hope is there that we shall have labour 
— good, wholesome, reasonable-priced labour — here?" was responded 
to through the medium of the glittering metal which the criers pro- 


fessed to despise. When the gold excitement died down, the miners 
returned from the mines, the flocks were tended, the sheep were shorn, 
the fields were ploughed, and the large, fast ships that once raced 
homeward with the metal of Ballarat and Bendigo became carriers 
of staples — of wool, grain, hides, copper, tallow, and gums — until, like 
the mines that brought them into existence, they too were worked out 
and their day of excitement and adulation was over. 

In February, i860, the Donald McKay was chartered by the British 
Government to convey about 1,000 troops, with their wives and chil- 
dren, from Cork to Mauritius, and to bring back soldiers to Ports- 
mouth. When she returned, she resumed her place in the Black Ball 
fleet together with her old companions, the Lightning, fames Baines, 
and Commodore Perry, and later — when a number of American 
vessels were purchased by the Line during the Civil War — with the 
Ocean Telegraph (renamed Light Brigade), Blac\ Warrior (renamed 
City of Melbourne), Morning Light (renamed Queen of the South), 
Red Rover (renamed Young Australia), and Flying Childers (re- 
named Golden South). During the late 1860's the Black Ball Line 
of sailing ships was disbanded — James Baines having decided to go 
into steam — and all of these vessels passed into other hands. Three 
of the four McKay ships — the Lightning, Champion of the Seas, and 
Donald McKay — were sold to Thomas J. Harrison & Co. of Liver- 
pool, and were thereafter employed in general trade. The Commodore 
Perry was purchased elsewhere, and in 1869 — the same year the 
Lightning was destroyed by fire at Melbourne Harbour — was burned 
at Bombay. The Champion, leaky and unfit for service, was sold at 
Liverpool in 1873, and foundered off the Horn in 1876 on her way 
from the Chincha Islands with guano for Ireland. The Donald McKay 
was resold in 1874, and the following year carried the Connaught 
Rangers to Bombay. In 1879 she passed into German hands, and was 
eventually shunted off to Madeira to serve as a coal hulk. 


The palmy days of the large, fast gold-carriers ended as the 1860's 
melted into the 1870's, and their places were taken by the dainty, 
British-built hardwood vessels, which in turn — as the 1870's melted 
into the 1880's — were driven from the familiar harbors of Australia 
by the magnificent wool clippers of iron and steel. 

Today, the big grain-carrying windjammers still keep alive the 
clipper-ship racing traditions as they plough the old sailing grounds 
yearly to and from the sun-flooded ports of Australia. On this route, 
at least — or until these ships and barques are built no more, or until 
the last are broken like glass on the rocks or lie imprisoned at their 
chains in some forgotten harbor — the closing sentence of sail cannot 
yet be written. 




drawn from Hall's report 



US register, tons 
British register, tons 
register, length, feet 
beam, moulded, feet 
depth.moulded, feet 
dead rise, inches 










British Tea Clipper 


ohn Fincham, master shipwright of Her Majesty's dockyard at 
Portsmouth during the reign of Queen Victoria, remarked that "most 
of the improvements in the British navy have been made only after 
experience has demonstrated their necessity." History, in furnishing 
proof of the statement, further embellishes it by detailing that the 
"experience" that made British improvements necessary was usually 
that of some other nation, and that the stubborn resistance to change, 
which characterized the attitude of shipbuilder, shipowner, and the 
Admiralty up to and including the early nineteenth century, and 
nullified the results of constant experimentation on the part of naval 
architects at home, yielded ground only when the outside world ex- 
erted pressure and Britain's sea-mastery was endangered. 

This does not mean that Great Britain was satisfied with her navy, 
or that she was not aware, before others, of certain means by which 
improvements could be effected. As has been said, her naval archi- 
tects were constantly engaged in making extensive investigation into 
prevailing conditions of ship design, and every new outside theory, 
from those advanced by Father Pardies in 1673 to those of the Swedish 
Admiral Chapman in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was 
carefully tested. But there was frequently a want of union between 
proposed improvements and their practical application. Great Britain 
had Laws which were sacred, and the Laws precluded change; so, 
in appearance, she was willing to leave to her rivals the pioneer work 

of translating theories into successful actualities, while she remained, 




so it seemed, smug and sluggish. Meanwhile she watched and waited, 
and, when changing conditions pressed her into activity, rarely failed 
to pull purely British improvements out of her own generously stocked 
warehouse, and to match "disgraceful foreign cupidity" with solid 
British enterprise. 

The devious route by which American shipbuilders (if they were 
uninfluenced by European thought) arrived at their peculiar design 
of the fast-boat model has never been satisfactorily traced; but it is 
contrastingly clear that England and the Continent were not unaware 
of the theories which made those vessels possible. Sir Walter Ralegh, 
in his Discourse on the Royal Navy and Sea Service, advised that to 
make a ship sail well "is to give her a long run forward, and so after- 
ward, done by art and just proportion," and that "the hindrance to 
stay well is the extreme length of a ship, especially if she be floaty, 
and want of sharpnesse of way forwards." He also scouted the use 
of excessive top-hamper : "The high charging of ships it is that brings 
them all ill qualities; makes them extreme leeward, makes them 
sinck deep in the water, makes them labour, and makes them overset. 
Men may not expect the ease of many cabbins, and safety at once in 
sea service. Two decks and a half is sufficient to yield shelter and 
lodging for men and marryners, and no more charging at all higher 
but only one low cabbin for the master. But our marryners will say 
that a ship will bear more charging aloft for cabbins; and that is 
true if none but ordinary marryners were to serve in them, who are 
able to endure, and are used to, the tumbling and rowling of ships 
from side to side, when the sea is never so little growne; but men of 
better sort and better breeding, would be glad to find more steadinesse, 
and less tottering cadge work." 

That the narrow bow was tested carefully is shown by its consid- 
eration in such a popular work as Falconer's Universal Dictionary 
of the Marine (published in 1769 and enlarged by William Burney 
in 1815) : "It has been shown by a variety of experiments, that a ship 
with a narrow bow is much better calculated for sailing swifdy, than 


one with a broad bow; but is not so well fitted for a high sea, into 
which she always pitches or plunges her forepart very deep, for want 
of sufficient breadth to repel the volume of water, which so easily 
divides in her fall. The former of these is called by seamen a lean, and 
the latter a bluff bow." 

One of the most interesting of the experimental vessels built in 
England, prior to the clipper period, was the Transit, a. four-poster 
designed by Richard Hall Gower, an officer in the East India Com- 
pany who, at the age of twenty, invented one of the earliest anticipa- 
tions of the Patent Log. Gower later invented numerous valuable naval 
appliances, and became widely known as one of the ablest yacht designers 
of his day. 

As will be seen by her lines, shown at the end of this chapter, the 
Transit possessed many clipperly characteristics : the concave bow, the 
even keel, the foremast stepped well back, and the greatest breadth 
of beam located centrally rather than far forward of amidships. She 
was practically wall-sided and lacked the graceful tumble-home of 
the Rainbow, as well as the Rainbow's sheer-line, but a comparison 
between the two plans cannot fail to be interesting. The Transit was 
launched in 1800 — forty-five years before the Griffiths vessel — in the 
waters of Chichester Harbour, Itchenor, Sussex. Fincham says of her : 

"She was a vessel of peculiar construction, and was intended for 
the packet service. In her first trials she showed superior qualities as 
a sailer and sea-boat; and having attracted the attention of the royal 
squadron in July, 1801, and previously, that of earl Spencer, when 
he was first lord of the admiralty, and having subsequently established 
her character as a fast sailer, the earl St. Vincent, now first lord 
of the admiralty, ordered her to be tried against the Osprey, a fast 
sailing sloop of war, of 383 tons, commanded by commander Irwin, 
in July, 1 801; and it appears by official returns, that the Transit had 
great advantage, both close-hauled and large; that in blowing weather 
she was much easier and drier than the Osprey; and that when pressed 
under trial, her greatest angle of heeling was about ten degrees. Al- 
though this vessel had displayed great superiority in sailing, as well 


as in other essential properties, yet she was allowed to take on board 
a cargo, and to sail with a convoy of merchant vessels: in this service 
her good qualities as a sailer were still displayed and noticed, particu- 
larly by captain Paget, of the Hydra; and it appears that they were 
not less conspicuous in subsequent voyages which she made as a 
trading vessel. She was fitted with bulkheads at certain distances from 
the head and stern, with a view to give transverse strength, and also 
to keep the weights away from the extremities. 

"From her acknowledged good qualities, the late lord Vernon had 
a yacht built on the reduced lines of the Transit; and this vessel is 
said to have possessed weatherly qualities, and to have sailed well; 
but it is said she was not stiff under canvas. 

"The rig of the Transit was not less peculiar than the form of her 
hull: she had four masts, each receiving support from another, and 
her sails were so cut as to be well adapted to sail close-hauled." 

The dimensions of the Transit were: length on deck, 98 feet; ex- 
treme breadth, 22 feet; breadth on the water line, 19 feet; load draught 
of water forward and aft, 1 1 feet 6 inches. 

With the exception of the yacht which was built for Lord Vernon, 
the Transit seems to have had no imitators and to have exerted no 
influence. This does not seem surprising, however, since the fine bow 
was considered unsuitable for a ship of war, because of the necessity 
of warships to carry heavy guns in the forepart; and the merchant- 
men of the period, protected by England's Navigation Laws, were 
concerned with neither speed nor originality. Shipbuilders, also, in 
the words of Fincham "came to have opinions in accordance with 
what they practiced," and we find Isaac Blackburn, a builder of 
Plymouth (in discussing the theory that "a ship with a long tapering 
forebody and sharp bow will invariably go much faster than one with 
a short taper and bluff bow"), writing in 1836 that "it is found by 
experience, that great touchstone of truth, that too great a fullness 
in the bow of a ship increases resistance considerably at the velocities 
they usually sail at; and that a small curve meets with less resistance 
than a fuller curve. It is also found, that a small curve meets with less 
resistance than a straight line; and that a straight line meets with less 


resistance than a hollow line . . . and again, if the bow is very sharp, 
and the stem below nearly upright, and there is a large gripe, the 
foremast will, in consequence of such circumstances, require to be 
placed further forward: for, although the ship might pitch violently, 
from the foremast being placed so far forward, and from her having 
so little fullness at the bow to support her when plunging; yet, her 
sails must necessarily be sufficiently forward to assist in counteracting 
her griping." 

Until the arrival of the Oriental in England, shipowners were con- 
tent to leave the design of their ships entirely to the shipbuilders, and 
shipbuilders, for the most part, entertained ideas similar to those of 
Mr. Blackburn, if not much more conservative. But, with the abro- 
gation of the Navigation Laws and the startling appearance of the 
Oriental, Britain, although thrown upon her beam-ends by this ap- 
parition-like beginning of a commercial attack upon her sea-power, 
wasted little time in marshaling her forces for a counter-attack. In 
time it became a very wonderful warfare; instead of matching blood- 
shed against bloodshed, it matched beautv against beauty, and speed 
against speed. 

The Oriental's lines were taken off by Admiralty surveyors while 
she was in dock; and Jardine, Matheson & Co. placed an order with 
Alexander Hall & Co., of Aberdeen, for a ship to be designed and 
built to compete with American clippers in the tea trade. The result- 
ing ship, the S tor no way, was not a slavish copy of the American 
model, but was built rather along the lines of the schooner-rigged 
opium clipper Torrington, which the Aberdeen firm had devised for 
Jardine, Matheson to compete with opium clippers sent out from 
America. Hall is credited with having first sponsored the Aberdeen 
bow — an approximation of the clipper bow — as far back as the late 
1830's or early 1840'$, and to have employed it on the little schooner 
Scottish Maid, which was built to compete with a paddle-steamer 
running between Aberdeen and London.* 

* It may be of interest to note that steamers that were built about this time for the 

srORNOWAY 269 

Another vessel built by Alexander Hall, previous to the building 
of the Stornoway, was the little John Bunyan, one of the fastest 
vessels sailing out of England to China before the advent of the 
Oriental. Her registered tonnage was 525, old measurement, and 446, 
new measurement, but she usually carried 716 tons of tea. Her pas- 
sages, listed between 1849 and 1851, were as follows: 


London to Anjier 

Shanghai to London 


78 days 

79 days 

109 days 

99 days 

no days 

Her passage from London to Shanghai in 1852 was made in 106 
days against the monsoon. 

Although the Oriental did not lower the John Bunyan' s 1850 rec- 
ord-passage home by any great margin, her passage was particularly 
striking as having been made against the contrary monsoon. In spite 
of this, however, the Bunyan 's passage stands out as one of the very 
fastest of the period, since only two other American ships (the Wis- 
consin and the White Squall) equaled it, and, with the exception 
of the Oriental, no other surpassed it until the Witch of the Wave 
broke all existing records with her 90-day passage in the spring of 
1852. The Bunyan was only about one-half the Oriental's size. 

The Stornoway was launched in the fall of 1850, and was named 
for Stornoway, the capital of Lewis, one of the Hebrides Isles: an 
odd name which was originally Stronbhaigh, Celtic for "nose of the 
bay." Almost the whole of the island of Lewis was owned by Sir 
James Matheson, Member of Parliament for Ross-shire and partner 

purpose of making short passages were frequently given rather sharp or elongated 
bows. In these instances, the bows were fined out with the specific intention of over- 
coming a tendency on their part to rise out of the water when the paddle wheels were 
in motion, particularly when the center of gravity was abaft the shaft of the paddle 
wheel. When the vessel showed increased speed after the bows were altered, it was 
attributed to the altered position of the wheels, rather than to the sharpness of the 
bows. Steamships were also made longer in proportion to breadth before sailing ships 
were so designed, but there seems to be no instance where the very rapid development 
of steamship design served to influence or improve the sailing ship. 


of Jardine, Matheson & Co., and it was there that he built the beau- 
tiful Gothic and Elizabethan castle, designed by James Wilson of 
Edinburgh, to which he retired after the close of his career in the 
China trade. During the potato-crop famine in Great Britain, Sir 
James was particularly active in mitigating the poverty and distress 
of his people by inaugurating an extensive works program (Lewis 
had a population of 19,694), which called for the building of new 
roads and bridges, the draining and fencing in of large tracts of 
moorlands, the tearing down of old cottages and the erection of new 
ones for the laborers, and the introduction of a new system of agri- 
culture. He maintained weekly steamship communication between 
Stornoway and Glasgow at his own expense, and was responsible for 
the annual cattle fairs at Stornoway, the horticultural and agricultural 
exhibitions, and the distribution of prizes to competitors. The record 
of his benevolences, including passage money expended to transport 
a thousand of his people to better farms in Canada, is endless; and 
it is said that the town of Stornoway, once a small hamlet of a dozen 
houses, had so increased in size during his ownership of Lewis that 
it boasted, in 1851, a branch of the National Bank of Scotland, assem- 
bly rooms and three very fine inns; several churches; gas-works, gaol, 
and court-house; a patent slip to take care of the large number of 
vessels wrecked yearly on the coast; and a population of 8,038. 

Such was the principal owner of England's first clipper, and the 
town for which she was named. In appearance, the vessel herself 
was a handsome, narrow little ship of 506 tons, measuring 157 feet 
8 inches in length, 25 feet 8 inches in breadth, and 17 feet 8 inches 
in depth. She was very wet, with a tendency to put her nose under 
the water. Her first commander was Captain Richard Robertson, 
formerly of the John o'Gaunt, and her first passage to Hongkong 
was made in the fast sailing time of 102 days. She came home in 103 

During her entire history in the China trade, she proved fast, but 
not remarkably so, and most of her passages have been dimmed by 


the brilliant performances of later and more successful clippers. At 
some time during the late 50's or early 6o's she was sold to the James 
Baines Black Ball Line, but her subsequent career is shrouded in 


18 00 

built at Itchenor 

designed by 

Richard Hall Gower 

drawn from Fincham's plan 

length on deck 98 feet - breadth extreme22ft,on water Irne 19 feet 
load draught of water afore 1H feet - loaddraught abaft IHfeet 


British Tea Clipper 

JLt is fairly certain that, long before the Oriental sailed up the 
Thames, Great Britain held in her hands, like the pieces of a picture 
puzzle, all the individual principles of clipper ship design. But today 
it would be extremely difficult to determine whether the actual vessel 
— the Oriental, the embodiment of a dozen disputed theories — in- 
fluenced British shipbuilders, or whether she served merely as a guide 
to the proper placing of the component parts of that picture puzzle. 

The Stornoway was British in design from stem to stern, but so 
much cannot be said for the Chrysolite, the second tea clipper built 
by Alexander Hall, of Aberdeen. The published measurements of 
this vessel were: length on upper deck, 149 feet 3 inches; extreme 
breadth, 29 feet; depth of hold, 17 feet 2 inches. The length of 
her main deck was 138 feet 6 inches; length over-all, 156 feet; length 
of keel, 130 feet; tonnage, 440 new, 570 old measurement. 

If the principal dimensions of the Oriental (185 x 36 x 21) are 
divided by 1.239, t h e results will be the corresponding figures for the 
length on deck, extreme breadth, and depth of hold of the Chrysolite. 
Since these proportions differ radically from those given to the narrow- 
beamed Stornoway and other earlier vessels, it seems very probable 
that there was a play of American ideas here. Two years later, when 
Hall built the Cairngorm for Jardine, Matheson & Co., the dimen- 
sions which he gave her (185 x 36.6 x 21) were almost identical with 
those of the Oriental, and, curiously enough, this ship is said to have 

been the first British-built clipper to rival the American cracks. Nev- 



ertheless, few builders adhered to these proportions, and Great Britain 
gradually evolved her own exquisite model — not comparable in size, 
shape, or construction to any of her American rivals in the China trade. 

The Chrysolite, built for the Liverpool firm of Taylor & Potter, 
was launched early in 1851, and took her departure for China in the 
month of April. Her commander was the Austrian-born Captain 
Anthony Enright, who later succeeded "Bully" Forbes to the com- 
mand of the Lightning. Although she carried no sails above royals 
and was a mere doll of a ship in comparison with the larger, more 
powerful California clippers, she streaked down the Atlantic and was 
in a fair way to break records when she struck a gale in the Indian 
Ocean, running her easting down. She shipped a series of granite- 
heavy seas over her stern, and Captain Enright was forced to give 
the order to heave-to, while he patched up injuries sustained by five 
or six members of his crew. Short-handed, she passed Anjier 80 days 
out, and arrived at Hongkong, in July, in the smart sailing time of 
102 days from home. 

In those days the China trade (aside from the coolie traffic) offered 
one of the most exciting and happiest of lives for a ship. The passage, 
both outward and home, was always double-edged with the dangers 
of reef and weather, but the cargoes were clean — the fragrance of 
China tea will always cling to the memory of the clipper ships — and 
the sporting appeal of the great races between China and England 
gave to the hard labor involved in carrying canvas a zest that was not 
quite instinct with the sailor. 

At the end of a long Eastern passage, China herself offered some- 
thing of novelty and thrill. The waters around the indented coast, 
with their boat population, were a delight to the eye — a theater of 
sound and motion, of flickering colors and gesturing shapes that 
moved and mimicked and repeated themselves both in and on the 
waters. On shore, where it seemed as if the sea and rivers had moved 
away and beached part of their burden for a backdrop, the odd, fes- 
tive atmosphere tempted more than one British and American tar- 
paulin to purchase a silken gown for himself and to parade the streets 


CHRrsoLire 275 

of the Treaty Ports, in holiday masquerade, before he wound up in 
a brawl or succumbed to inevitable saturation. 

In the early 1850's, the principal ports of call were Canton, Woo- 
sung, Shanghai, and Hongkong. Of these, the latter port was the 
capital of all European thought and social life in the East, although, 
when China ceded the island to England at the close of the Opium 
War, it was nothing more than a barren, if picturesque, rock, and 
the site of Victoria — or Petticoat-string Path, as the Chinese villagers 
and fishermen preferred it — was but a narrow roadway winding among 
the cliffs. The two roadsteads — Kowloong Bay and the outer harbor 
— gave excellent accommodation to ships, however, and it was not 
long before the European population, attracted to the island for pur- 
poses of trade, centered their establishments around the house of Jar- 
dine, Matheson & Co. at East Point, and eventually spread themselves 
out into one of the most important depots of trade in the Eastern 
seas. Hongkong became a little Britain, with banks, government 
houses, schools, churches, hotels, newspaper offices, an ice house sup- 
plied with ice by the Tudor Ice Company of New England, a naval 
yard, barracks, steamship companies, docks, libraries, and clubs. 
Amusement was supplied in the form of amateur theatricals, racing, 
cricket, boating, and an annual Regatta held during one week in 
November. Gardening was taken up with a great deal of spirit, trees 
and shrubs were imported from various parts of the world, flowers 
were planted — camellias, azaleas, roses, and orchids (the gardens of 
Messrs. Dent and Co. were famous for their Orchid Walks) — until, 
within only a few years after the island had changed ownership, the 
rock had been metamorphosed into a nine-mile garden of fragrant 
bloom. The only product for exportation, indigenous to Hongkong, 
was granite. The island served chiefly as a clearing-house for the export 
products of other ports — for opium, sugar, flour, cotton, rice, tea, 
woolen goods, silks, and oil — and was a popular place for rounding 
out a cargo before a ship sailed for home. 

Canton, the most noted emporium of the Celestial Empire, was 
an important port of call for European navigators as early as the 


sixteenth century, and — because of its unparalleled facilities for navi- 
gation and the heavy demands for the products of the Province of 
Kwangtung, for which it provided the outlet — it remained so until 
the popularity of other ports robbed it of its preeminence. Vessels, 
trading to Canton, ascended the Chu-Kiang or Pearl River only so 
far as the picturesque but noisy anchorage at Whampoa. At this point 
they unloaded their wares into native boats and waited for their re- 
turn cargoes — composed principally of tea, silk, cassia, matting, fire- 
crackers, sugar, and palmleaf fans — to come down the river. At one 
time New York imported from five to six million palmleaf fans a 
year, but vessels bound for England loaded with silks and tea, and 
it was the traffic in the latter commodity alone that sent the clipper 
ships racing against time and one another. 

There were several reasons for the races. The young shoots of the 
tea plant were picked four times a year: the first in April for pekoe 
and young hyson, the second in May, the third in July, and the fourth 
in August or September. Although a six months' interval usually 
elapsed before the product was ready for its final treatment and sale, 
each succeeding gathering yielded a product less valuable and less 
fragrant; consequently there was always a scramble for the new teas 
when they were ready for the market. And the new teas generally 
went, together with the highest freight rates, to the ships with the 
best reputations for speed, while slower vessels frequently had to put 
up with the stock of a former season. The race home was necessary 
because the belief was prevalent in England that a long passage spoiled 
the tea, and, up until 1867, a premium was paid to the first ship to 
reach London or Liverpool. The fame of more than one swift clipper 
was written in the dregs and possibly imaginary flavor of a cup of tea, 
but the advertising value was well worth the payment of the premium. 

The Chrysolite took her departure from Whampoa on the 19th of 
August, a few days after the American clipper Memnon, Captain 

CHRrsoLire 277 

Gordon, sailed from the same port for London. The two ships were 
in company near the Island of Banca, after which both took the 
short cut through Macclesfield's Strait — the passage between Banca 
and Pulo Leat. The Memnon — near the spot where the British clipper 
Lammermuir was lost several years later — stove in her bottom on a 
coral reef in a squall, was abandoned, and stripped by pirates. The 
Chrysolite, being ahead and unaware of the tragedy of the Memnon, 
continued the race and reached Liverpool on December 1. Her pas- 
sage of 104 days from Whampoa — one of the best three made by 
either a British or an American clipper during the year — was greeted 
with rejoicing in England. The Illustrated London News devoted 
several columns to an account of her passage. The following remarks 
were included: 

"The latter ship [Memnon] sailed from Whampoa three days 
before the Chrysolite; notwithstanding which the latter came up with 
the Memnon on the 21st day, tried with her for fifteen hours in a 
dead beat to windward through the Gaspar Straits, beat her com- 
pletely, and left her g l / 2 miles astern, having had a good fresh breeze 
all the time. After this the Chrysolite fell in with H.M. frigate 
Havannah, of 20 guns, a very fine and fast sailing vessel, of 1000 tons: 
the two were in company for fifteen days, and the frigate could not 
leave her; in fact, the Chrysolite kept her astern from two to five 
miles, as her log proves, although the frigate crowded every stitch of 
canvas she could set, thus proving her admirable sailing qualities; 
while the officers of the Havannah acknowledged that she was the 
only ship they had ever fallen in with during their commission that 
had been able to hold with them. The two vessels parted company 
about 700 miles from the Azores — the frigate for Portsmouth, the 
Chrysolite for Liverpool. Her official character, as given by her cap- 
tain, proves her a most superior ship; and her whole performance 
shows that, whenever it comes to a fair field and real work, she is 
well able to cooe with and lead the fastest of the 'boasted American 

"The following were some of her best days' sailings, 24 hours; 


235 knots 172 knots 236 knots 200 knots 

264 225 230 212 

260 289 320 268 

180 290 260 

Rate of sailing by the wind, g l / 2 , 10, and io 1 /^ knots; going free for 
all sail, ny 2 , 12 y 2 , and 13% for many days together, and has gone 
for a limited period 14 knots. She is very easy and buoyant in all 
weathers, running before heavy gales, or hove to; behaves remarkably 
well under all circumstances, and has passed every ship with which 
she has yet fallen in." 

Between 1852 and 1859, a number of new vessels were built in Eng- 
land for the China trade, including W. S. Lindsay's Challenger, the 
long and narrow Lord of the Isles — which had a tendency to snake 
through the water to the peril of all who happened to be on deck, 
especially in the vicinity of the jib-boom, the Cairngorm, Crest of the 
Wave, Norma, Flying Dragon, Formosa, Fiery Cross, Lammermuir, 
Northfleet, Robin Hood, Friar Tuc\, Ziba, and Spirit of the Age. 
Of these, the Lord of the Isles was unique in that she was built of 
iron. She was built by John Scott & Co. of Greenock and was very 
fast — one of her passages being the marvelous run of 87 days from 
Shanghai to London in 1855, against the monsoon; but, owing to a 
belief that an iron ship sweated her cargoes, she was never popular 
in the tea trade. In August, 1862, she was near the island of Hainan 
with a full load of gunpowder, when she caught fire and was aban- 
doned by her crew, part of which was picked up by the gunboat 
Sna\e. Captain Davie, her commander, and six French priests, pas- 
sengers, also reached land in safety. 

During these years, while lean ships laced blue seas with patterns 
of white as they hurried homeward with cargoes of tea, trade con- 
ditions at the Treaty Ports labored between increased size and the 
ignominy of being snuffed out altogether. In 1853, an American firm 
made contacts, through native agents at Foochow, with the tea dis- 
tricts of the interior Province of Fuhkien, and extensive shipments, 
for the first time, were made from thence to New York. It was a 


significant step, since Foochow later became one of the most favored 
ports of call for the tea clippers and was the starting point for many 
of the grand races of the 1860's. The same year nearly seventy cases 
of piracy were reported in the vicinity of Hongkong; and the pros- 
perity of the rising settlement of Shanghai was threatened by bands 
of insurgents invading nearby territories. In 1854 the French Admiral, 
Laguerre, attacked the rebels who had successfully invaded Shanghai 
the previous September, but his party was driven back, and the rebels 
remained in possession of the city — to the general confusion of business. 

Down the coast at Hongkong on the 14th of January of the same 
year, the American squadron — the ships Susquehanna, Powhatan, 
Mississippi, Vandalia, Southampton, Supply, and Lexington — were 
making last-minute preparations before sailing to Japan, under the 
command of Commodore Perry. In April, the Susquehanna was back 
again with news of successful negotiations for a Commercial Treaty 
between the United States and Japan, and on the 14th of August the 
American ship Lady Pierce, fitted up by Mr. Silas E. Burrows for 
a yachting cruise to Japan, returned from a peace expedition to that 
country. Exactly one month later Commodore Perry himself was being 
presented with a service of plate by the American communities at Hong- 
kong and Canton, prior to his departure overland for America. On 
the 1 st of November the discovery ship Enterprise arrived at Hongkong 
from the Arctic; on the 21st of December several hundred Chinese 
rebels were captured by the police; and, a little later in the month, 
the Crimean War raised an echo on the island, when subscriptions 
were taken up for the families of the soldiers and sailors who had 
perished in that conflict. That year the public journals commented 
upon the extraordinarily fast passage of 106 days made by a vessel 
(unnamed) from Whampoa to London. 

The following year the rebels were driven out of Shanghai, and 
trade took an upward slant: 434 foreign vessels arrived for tea and 
silks, and 437 took their departure. Hongkong had a bad fire that 
year and, in September, a storm caused most of the vessels in the 
harbor to drift, damaged the wharves, and destroyed a number of 


lorchas. H.M.'s brig Bittern killed 1,200 men and destroyed twenty- 
three junks in an encounter with pirates at Shei-foo; and, in October, 
the U. S. Consul, Mr. Keenan, had a dust-up with the local authori- 
ties over the rights and jurisdiction held by the latter over the persons 
of American subjects on board American vessels in the harbor, and, 
although this matter was satisfactorily settled, Mr. Keenan was bailed, 
in the following month, to make his appearance at the Supreme Court 
on the charge of having rescued an American prisoner from the civil 
authorities, with assault and battery. The year closed with an attack 
by robbers on the premises of Messrs. Wardley & Co. ; and the follow- 
ing year opened with an attack on shops at East Point, during which 
Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co.'s guard was wounded and property 
to the value of $1,000 was carried off. 

In 1856 the Chinese authorities arrested some Chinese seamen on 
board the British lorcha Arrow. When the fleet under Sir Michael 
Seymour attempted to avenge the insult to the British flag, hostilities 
broke out at Canton, and the Factories (foreign residences) at Canton 
were pillaged and burned by native mobs. Matters were further com- 
plicated when warships belonging to the United States were fired 
upon by the Chinese, as the ships passed the once famous Barrier Forts. 
The United States vessels returned the fire, and the forts were com- 
pletely demolished. Twelve months after the Factories were burned, 
an expedition under the command of Sir Charles Straubenzee was 
dispatched from England, and the city of Canton was taken by esca- 
lade on the 29th of December, 1857, and for the first time was com- 
pletely opened out to European invasion. In the meantime, merchant 
ships had taken themselves to other ports and Canton did not resume 
her important position in the scheme of trade. 

In 1858 American clippers were noticeably absent from China, but 
nearly 318 British vessels of all types, representing a gross capacity 
of 124,302 tons, arrived at Shanghai for cargoes, leaving the neigh- 
borhoods of Canton and Hongkong, where the year was very terrible, 
almost deserted. 

Piracies of all sorts — including the capture of the Wing-sunn pas- 

CHRTSOLire 281 

sage boat, which plied between Macao and Hongkong — and incendiary 
fires marked the period; and Hongkong, because of a proclamation 
issued at Canton by the Braves of the Kwangtung Province ordering 
all Chinese in foreign employ to return to their homes, was thrown 
into dismay by the exodus of servants from the island, and by the 
stoppage of supplies from the mainland. By 1859 practically all the 
tea ships were calling at Foochow or Shanghai for their cargoes, and 
another day, made interesting by the advent of a new type of British 
clipper, dawned over the tea trade. When the 1860's were in full 
swing, the reign of the Chrysolite and her companion ships of the 
1850's was definitely over. 


British Tea Clippers 


'uring i860 two or three American clippers, including the Flying 
Cloud, loaded at China ports with the London teas, but after that 
year the representatives of the Stars and Stripes were conspicuously 
absent from the races, and the field was left almost entirely free for 
the competitive sailings of the long, narrow, beautiful new British 
clippers, built between 1859 and 1863, of the Falcon, Min, Serica, 
Flying Spur, second Fiery Cross, and Belted Will class. But since the 
Yankee clippers left a generous sprinkling of fast passages behind 
them when they departed — such as the 65-day run of the Challenge 
from Anjier to the Downs, the 72-day run of the Nightingale from 
Portsmouth to Anjier, the 84-day run of the Comet from Liverpool 
to Hongkong, and the 86-day run of the Golden Gate from Shanghai 
to Beachy Head — the question of their construction, in comparison 
with British ships designed specifically for the tea trade, will always 
remain a provocative one. 

Much has been said pro and con about the superiority of American 
ships, in matters of speed, over those of British build, and vice versa; 
but in the China trade, where the size of the more powerfully rigged 
American ships might have been a handicap, the results in passages, 
with very few exceptions, speak as well for one type as they do for 
the other. American ships, as a class, reached the highest pitch of 
fast-passage making between the years 1850 and 1861. If, then, the 
finest passages that American ships made between China and England 
are selected for comparison with an equal number of the finest pas- 


Tacpitig and ^Arlcl 


sages made by British ships over the same route, between 1868 and 
1873 (the years when Great Britain may be said to have reached the 
pitch of fast-passage making), a fair basis for deciding the superiority 
of one type of ship over the other may be arrived at. The results are 
as follows: 

American, 1850-61. Average 55 best passages China to England, 
109 days 17 hours. 

British, 1868-73. Average 55 best passages China to England, no 
days 18 hours. 

The slight margin in favor of American ships over this course is, 
however, almost completely wiped out by the fact that Yankee clippers 
made but six passages under 100 days during the decade they raced 
to England with tea; while British clippers, over a period of five years, 
made eight passages under 100 days. The averages are as follows: 

American, 1850-61. Average 6 runs under 100 days to England, 95 
days 12 hours. 

British, 1868-73. Average 8 runs under 100 days to England, 95 
days 3 hours. 

It is true that American clippers were designed specifically for the 
California trade and that British clippers were designed specifically 
for the tea trade, but most British ships were built as tight as a bottle, 
and, whatever handicaps American clippers had in any trade, they 
boasted one great advantage which undoubtedly aided them in their 
famous bursts of speed: that of pliability. A British shipbuilder writ- 
ing in the early 1830's, and agitating for flexibility in the construction 
of ships, called attention to this characteristic of American shipbuild- 
ing; but it was not until many years later, when Great Britain was 
building the last of her famous clippers, that much attention was paid 
to the subject in that country. He said: 

"When a ship is so firmly put together as to become inflexible, the 


midship bend must always be deeper immersed whenever the after- 
body subsides, as illustrated in the immediately preceding article,* 
because the one part cannot move without the other, she is bound 
fast, and becomes unyielding to the partial pressure attending the 
operations of her natural element. But if a ship was put together in 
such a manner as to be pliable, and to bend or yield a little in mid- 
ships, so as to allow the after-body of its own accord to subside, with- 
out depressing and enlarging the midship bend, she would then 
escape the additional resistance, and of course go faster. The advantage 
emanating from pliability of construction, by enabling the after-body 
to subside, without depressing the midship bend, becomes therefore 
of material import, and claims more especially the attention of the 
practical ship-builder, in the putting of a ship together. It is in a very 
paramount degree, owing to want of pliability, that so many failures 
and disappointments occur in the sailing of ships, as before alluded 
to; and why the fairest expectations of the ship-builder are so often 
defeated. Experience and observation has induced a common opinion, 
that pliability in the construction facilitates the sailing of ships; but 
it has rarely been attended to by the practical builder in the construc- 
tion of ships, as its importance demands; nor has its operation in 
accelerating the velocity of a ship been rightly comprehended. 

"The advantage and expediency in pliability, is very evident in a 
scientific point of view; and, experience has amply proved it, as occur- 
ring from the different manner in which ships have been constructed ; 
this has been witnessed in many that have been built in America, and 
in other parts of the world, in which instances the advantage of plia- 
bility of construction has accidentally manifested itself by their being 
badly built, and flimsily put together. When it has happened also to 
have been fortuitously thought of and resorted to in cases of emer- 
gency, its importance has frequently been experienced. Instances have 
been known when vessels have been pursued by an enemy, and extraor- 
dinary efforts required to be made in order to expedite their sailing, 
that the sides of the vessels have been cut down, (the planks in the 
upperworks sawn through) in midships, whereby their speed has been 

* "The after-body has, when the ship is going forward, a tendency to forsake the 
support of the water under it, in consequence of the ship moving in a level direction, 
and the support of the after-body lying in a slanting or sloping direction. By thus 
forsaking the water, the after-body is liable to dip, or subside, owing to the loss of its 
support: or, as mariners term it, to sink after her tail " 


so much accelerated, as to have enabled them to effect their escape. 
The reason of this is obvious, the vessels have thereby acquired plia- 
bility; and (though certainly a dangerous expedient,) a more effectual 
recourse to obtain pliability in midships, and to enable the after-bodv 
to subside, could not have been resorted to." 

Certainly the privateers of America, in early days, were often flung 
together and were quite swift; but it does not necessarily follow that 
the later American cracks were of faulty construction because they 
were fast, since strong, supple woods, introduced into those parts most 
liable to strain, provided not only the desirable "give," but also 
strength and durability. There were also what might be called "tricks 
of the trade," utilized for the purpose of giving a ship a certain amount 
of resiliency, and, in other cases, for improving the trim of a ship. 
These consisted, for the most part, in eliminating all superfluous fast- 
enings, making the masts to rake "just so," removing weights from 
one position to a better one, and stowing the anchor as far aft as cir- 
cumstances would permit; using "springy" ballast (renewed as often 
as possible) in the form of fresh, clean, loose stone or, better yet, using 
casks, bottles, or tanks partly filled with water or other liquid for 
ballast; loosening the sheets on the fore and main courses so that 
the sails would ride slightly forward from the perpendicular, setting 
the shrouds up freshly (this has been known to make half a knot's 
difference in the speed of a ship), suspending a weight on the mainstay 
to relieve it from tautness (during earlier days, when ships sometimes 
outsailed their convoys, old sailors were known to put a stopper on 
the mainstay and confine it to the deck, in order to slow down a 
ship to save themselves the trouble of taking in sail), and slackening 
the backstays ever so little. 

It may be supposed that whatever sailing tricks there were, American 
skippers used them; but, after the spars of the Yankee clippers were 
cut down and they disappeared from the tea races, Great Britain, far 
from falling into her old slack ways of the non-competitive period, 
continued to make great headway, and dealt herself a few aces from 
the pack of shipbuilding progress. One of these was the introduction 


of the system of composite construction, which consisted in giving a 
ship iron frames and a wooden skin. Aside from being an extremely 
advantageous method of construction — since it combined the strength, 
lightness, cheapness, and minimum space requirements of iron with 
the durability and minimum of friction presented by copper sheathing 
on a wooden bottom — it was a welcome one to shipbuilders, who were 
beginning to worry over the cost and scarcity of timber, but who 
clung to the conservative belief that wooden ships were superior to 
those of iron. There were several methods of composite construction 
in use, the most popular being that patented by John Jordan of Liver- 
pool. The first composite vessels constructed according to his system 
were the schooner Excelsior (1850) and the barque Marion Macintyre 
(1851), built by L. H. Macintyre & Co. John Jordan's father was a 
partner in this firm. The first seagoing vessel of composite construction 
was the Tubal Cain, built by the same firm. Jordan is generally cred- 
ited with having originated the system, but his method was anticipated 
as early as 1839 by that of a Mr. Watson, of Dublin. 

In 1863 several composite tea clippers were brought out, which 
proved so successful that thereafter all the tea clippers were of com- 
posite construction. One of the first of these, the Taeping, was a lovely 
litde ship designed by William Steele and built by Robert Steele, of 
Greenock, who in 1826 had built the United Kingdom, the first of 
the Leviathan-class of steamers. The Taeping was launched on the 
24th of December, and measured: length, 183 feet 7 inches; breadth, 
31 feet 1 inch; depth, 19 feet 9 inches; tons, j6j. Her owner, Captain 
Rodger, was formerly commander of the Kate Carnie, one of the early 
British clippers and the first clipper launched from the Steele yards. 
Her first commander was Captain M'Kinnon, one of the most daring 
skippers in the tea trade. 

The Taeping was soon followed by others of composite build, in- 
cluding the Eliza Shaw, Yang-tze, and Blac\ Prince in 1863, and the 
Ariel, Ada, Sir Lancelot, and Taitsing in 1865. All these were ex- 
quisite litde ships with long, narrow lines and small deck houses; 


India-teak decks, rails, bulwarks, hatch-coamings, and skylights; and 
a dazzling array of brightly polished brasswork. 

The Ariel, probably the fastest of this group, was also a creation 
of the brothers Steele, and like all their productions presented a charm- 
ing appearance to the eye — an appearance which was greatly enhanced 
by a delicate, fine-lined stern, which proved, however, to be excessively 
dangerous in a following sea. The Steele ships had a tendency to sit 
down, or squat, in the water. Her masts and spars were painted flesh- 
color, and the white panels of her bulwarks and midship house were 
white, edged with green and stenciled faint rose-color. She had iron 
masts and was the first British clipper to carry double topsails — a 
fashion which was soon adopted by nearly all the vessels, with the 
exception of those owned by Captain Rodger. She was launched in 
the autumn of 1865, owned by Shaw, Maxton & Co. (Shaw was for- 
mer commander of the clippers Lord of the Isles and Falcon) and 
measured: length, 197 feet 4 inches; breadth, 33 feet 9 inches; depth, 
21 feet; tons, 852. Her first commander was Captain Keay, formerly 
of the clipper Ellen Rodger. 

The Taeping's passages, summed up, were as follows: 1865, Foo- 
chow to the Downs, 101 days (fastest passage of the year); 1866, 
China to England, 99 days; 1868, Foochow to London, 102 days; 

1869, China to London, 107 days and out to Shanghai in 102 days; 

1870, from Whampoa in 116 days, thence out to Shanghai again, from 
which port she departed on February 25, arriving at Bangkok on 
March n. 

The Ariel's passages, summed up, were as follows: 1866, China to 
England, 99 days. Was 25 days from Anjier to the Cape and 13 days 
between the Tropics. 1867, Foochow to England, 102 days, first ar- 
rival; 1868, Foochow to London, 97 days, first arrival; 1869, Foochow 
to London, 104 days, out to Shanghai in 108 days; 1870, struck a 
gale on her way to Yokohama necessitating repairs, missed the races, 
and took a cargo to New York; 1871, New York to London in 28 
days, home from Shanghai that year in 113 days. Her best day's run 
was 340 knots. 


The Taeping and the Ariel figured conspicuously in the tea races 
(covered in succeeding chapters) until 1872, when both were lost: 
the first on Ladd's Reef, while bound from Amoy to New York, and 
the second somewhere out in the blue, while on her way from London 
to China. Her commander at the time was a Captain Cachenaille. 


British Tea Clippers 

./Jllthough the races of the British tea clippers to 1866 had not been 
without interest and there was a spotting of fine passages, it was not 
until the composite clippers were sent out to China that British ships 
began to show a beautiful average of performances, both singly and 
in groups. In no race is the standard of excellence reached by British 
builders so well illustrated as in the famous close race of 1866, which 
started from Foochow — the city that eclipsed all others in general, and 
Shanghai in particular, as the port of call for tea. 

During the years i860 to 1864, Shanghai had been excessively pros- 
perous and trade was somewhat concentrated at that spot, partly owing 
to the opening of the navigation of the Yangtse under the Treaty of 
T'lentsing, and partly because the irruption of the T'aiping hosts from 
Nanking had impelled scores of the inhabitants of other cities to take 
to their heels and their money-bags and to seek refuge in Shanghai. 
The city mushroomed up with a speed only a little less amazing than 
that which marked the rise of San Francisco and of Melbourne, and 
the usual wild speculation (principally in real estate, cotton, and teas) 
and the logical aftermath followed. When the T'aiping rebels were 
driven back, the refugees returned to their homes, and the majority 
of the speculations ended in disaster. A writer in the Shanghai Daily 
News presents this picture of the city in 1866: 

"It has been suggested that a calculation of the amount of capital 

sunk in the various unremunerative speculations which may be seen in 



the course of any afternoon's pull on the river or stroll through the 

settlement, would be interesting Beginning at the lower reach, the 

premises of the Shanghai Brick and Saw Mill Company invite atten- 
tion, and an item of Tls. 100,000 would be entered by the calculator 
under the head of dead loss, with memorandum in the column of 
'remarks,' that an effort was being made by a new company who 
had purchased the premises for Tls. 18,000 to work them with better 
success. Bewildered while passing up the river, by successive ranges 
of empty or half empty go-downs, he would vaguely set down a million 
or two as the number of lost taels represented. At the time these go- 
downs were erected, the river contained 270 ships instead of 27, and 
the demand for warehouse accommodation largely exceeded the sup- 
ply. Cool consideration might have suggested the impossibility that 
this could last; that supply so enormous must cause a glut to be fol- 
lowed by reaction. But no such reflection was acted on; the demand 
for storage existed and the erection of warehouses offered an appar- 
ently profitable opportunity of investment. Go-downs and wharves 
were constructed in an excess corresponding with the excessive arrivals 
of goods; and now that the arrivals have ceased, the go-downs are 
empty and the wharves idle." 

The results of tea speculations during the years of Shanghai's plenty, 
and the enormous size of the shipments ventured upon by the specu- 
lators, only served to stimulate shipments from Foochow; and these 
continued to increase, proportionately, as shipments from other ports 
decreased. In 1861 (about the time Foochow began to receive marked 
attention) fifty-six million pounds of tea were exported from this port, 
two-thirds of which (principally Congou and Souchong) went to 
Great Britain, and the other third to the United States (principally 
Oolong), Australia, and elsewhere. In 1865 the figure had grown to 
sixty-five million pounds, valued at 19,717,882 Mexican dollars. 

The city of Foochow itself, distant from Hongkong about 520 miles 
by steamer and from Shanghai by about 410 miles, served, with Amoy, 
as the outlet for the products of the Province of Fukien; such prod- 
ucts consisting, for the most part, of black (or Bohea) teas, grains, 
bamboo, ginger, deer's horns, beeswax, sugar, medicines, paper, cloth, 

Sir Lancelot and Leandcr 


and timber. Built in the form of an Ace of Clubs, and charmingly and 
aloofly situated on the River Min, Foochow in those days was one of 
the loveliest among the open ports of China. The Chinese section of 
the city confined itself within the petals of the Club beyond the 
paddy-fields and tea pavilion, but the residences of the European com- 
munity were built on the hilly south bank of the river, adjacent to 
the Bridge of Ten Thousand Ages, which connected the city with the 
little island called Chung Chow. The hongs of the merchants were 
scattered nonchalantly amongst dense foliage, with practically every 
well-known mercantile name in China represented: Jardine, Mathe- 
son & Co., Lindsay & Co., Siemssen & Co., Dent & Co., Augustine 
Heard & Co., Russell & Co., Gibb, Livingston & Co., Adamson & Co., 
Olyphant & Co., Hedge & Co., Birley & Co., Foster & Co., Gilman 
& Co., Fussell & Co., and Holiday, Wise & Co. As with Canton, large 
merchant ships were obliged to anchor ten miles below the city so that 
in this respect Foochow was similar to the city on the Pearl, if less 
clean. A staff of European pilots conducted the navigation of foreign 
vessels to and from the Min, at a charge, in 1866, of three Mexican 
dollars per foot of draft from the White Dogs to Sharp Peak Island, 
and of one dollar and a half per foot thence to the Pagoda Island 
Anchorage. The dock at the island was owned and managed by Euro- 
peans, whose charges were one Mexican dollar per ton for the day of 
entrance and the two following days, and sixteen cents per ton per 
day thereafter. 

Late in the month of May, 1866, eleven clippers lay at the Pagoda 
Anchorage loading their matted chests of tea, in preparation for the 
race home. Six of these — the Ada, Blac\ Prince, Chinaman, Flying 
Spur, Falcon, and Coulna^yle — were older, less favorite ships and 
received only secondary attention from either shippers or bettors; but 
the others were the pick of the fleet, being either mysterious new en- 
tries or top passage-makers of the previous year. The Ariel, which, 
with the Taitsing, was one of the new composite vessels out to China 
for the first time, completed loading first, unmoored first, and dropped 
down the river to anchor until morning. Toward dawn, the Fiery 


Cross — one of the best passage-makers out the previous year (88 days 
to Hongkong, pilot to pilot) and first vessel home in the race of that 
year — finished second. The Taeping and the Serica (the first vessel 
the best passage-maker of the previous year, and the latter vessel 
runner-up for honors with the Fiery Cross) finished loading together, 
and the Taitsing finished the following day. 

The Ariel, although first to load, was not the first to leave China 
behind her. Both she and her tugboat were caught in the swirling 
waters of the Min and, while they churned about having a bad time 
of it, the Fiery Cross went sliding by with a cheer on her way to the 
open sea. Fourteen hours afterwards, the Ariel, Taeping, and Serica 
— all together, by that time — prepared to drop their pilots, when the 
Ariel's pilot boat overturned, causing another delay, and the Taeping 
and Serica shot out ahead. Such was the start. The Taitsing followed 
at their heels a day later, and, from that moment on, all five went 
zigzagging down the map at headlong speed, meeting each other in 
calms, on the passage to England, and losing each other again as the 
winds grew keen. 

They finished in whirlwind fashion, giving an excellent illustra- 
tion of the even results achieved when sailing ships were designed on 
a purely scientific basis, as they were at that time. The Taeping and 
the Ariel, being composite ships of the newer type, well commanded, 
and favored in calms, should have won the race. Which they did. 
They arrived off the Lizard on the same date, nearly abeam, and 
took their pilots practically together. Both ships were 99 days out 
from Foochow, but the Ariel was ten minutes ahead at the Downs, 
which threw the race in her favor, until the Taeping docked twenty 
minutes ahead and claimed the victory. The argument as to which 
ship won the race was settled by sharing the premium. 

The times of the other ships from their pilot at Foochow to the 
Downs were: Serica, 99 days; Fiery Cross, 101 days; and Taitsing, 
101 days. 

Another pair of very smart composite-built clippers, the Sir Lancelot 
and the Leander, were launched, one just before and one just after 


the close race of 1866. The first vessel went down the ways on July 
27, 1865, but an incompetent commander robbed her of the oppor- 
tunity to compete in that race, which is something of a pity since she 
was almost the twin of the Ariel. Mr. W. S. Lindsay, who considered 
her and the Thermopylae "the fastest sailing ships that ever traversed 
the ocean," gives this biography of her: 

"She was built by Mr. Steele of Greenock for her owner, Mr. James 
MacCunn, of that place, and was commanded by Captain Richard 
Robinson, a native of Maryport, who was brought up in the service 
of Messrs. Broklebank, of Liverpool, and who had, previously to being 
placed in command of the Sir Lancelot, made very fast passages in the 
Fiery Cross. She is 886 tons register; and her dimensions are — length, 
197 feet 6 inches; breadth, 33 feet 7 inches, and depth, 21 feet. This 
celebrated sailing ship, in her racing days, spread, when under full 
sail, 45,000 square or superficial feet of canvas. She was manned by 
30 hands all told, and delivered 1430 tons of tea (of 50 cubic feet 
to the ton) and her draught of water, when thus laden, was 18 feet 
7 inches forward, and 18 feet 9 inches aft. In addition to about 200 
tons of shingle ballast, there was 100 tons of iron kentledge (specially 
cast for this purpose), stowed in the limbers — that is between the 
ceiling and the outer skin. This was fitted to the vacant spaces and 
distributed along the keelson, tapering towards the foremast and 
mizzen-mast. It gave the ship great stability, and compensated for 
the immense height of her masts, which, without the kentledge, would 
have made the ship too tender. In the opinion of her owner, it con- 
tributed greatly to the ship's success. I may add that the bottom, which 
consists of teak, was carefully planed before the metal was put on, 
and was quite as smooth as the bottom of a yacht." 

Her hull was painted pale sea-green and her figurehead was a 
knight in armor, with plumed helmet and right hand on sword. She 
sailed to China on her maiden passage, under the command of a 
Captain MacDougal, and, after an intermediate passage from Bangkok 
to Hongkong, was chartered at Hanchow by Jardine, Matheson & Co. 
to load teas at £y a ton. Unfortunately, it was one of the off years 
at the port — one in which defective towage and the intricacies of 

... -,--.-.,.. ,. ._ ^.. . . . 


navigation resulted in numerous wrecks and losses so serious as to 
cripple the port as a shipping place for tea; and the Sir Lancelot 
was one of the vessels damaged in a collision. The other MacCunn 
clipper, the Guinevere, was lost that year. She took her departure 
from Hankow on June 3, with the first tea shipment of the season 
(a valuable cargo of some 9,000 chests) and was totally wrecked 
fifty miles down the stream. Her loss was immediately followed by 
the stranding of several other vessels, with the result that insurance 
rates, on vessels descending the Yangtse, soared to an almost pro- 
hibitive height. It is therefore not so surprising that Captain MacDougal 
of the Sir Lancelot and Captain McLean of the Guinevere, who took 
passage home in the Sir Lancelot, should have brought the MacCunn 
clipper home in the slow time of 122 days, and in the most completely 
unnerved and incompetent manner. At the end of the passage the 
Sir Lancelot was handed over to Captain Robinson, of the Fiery Cross. 
She again lost her opportunity to sail early in the 1867 race, having 
been dismasted, but her 99-day passage was the fastest of the year. 
Subsequent passages made by the Sir Lancelot were: England to China, 
98, 115, and 100 days; China to England, 98, 90, 102, 122, 127, 124, 
128 days. In 1871 she made her passage from China to New York, 
and in 1874 went to Sydney in 84 days. In 1875 she went from Shang- 
hai to New York in less than 100 days; in 1876, went to Otago from 
London, thence to Shanghai, thence to Yokohama, where she loaded 
for St.-Nazaire. Made the passage from Japan to Plymouth in 127 
days. In 1877 she went from Shanghai to New York in 95 days; in 
1 88 1 she went to Pordand, Oregon, to load grain. The following year 
she went from Astoria, April 3, to the Downs, August 21; loaded 
for Hull, left Shields, October 4, was at Beachy Head on October 6, 
and at Anjier on December 27. Thence she went to Calcutta, departed 
from the Hooghly on April 20, 1883, and arrived at Rouen on Septem- 
ber 2, 1883. From Rouen she went to the Clyde and loaded for 
Mauritius. For several years thereafter she was employed as a country 
Like the Sir Lancelot, the Leander had an incompetent commander 


on her first passage to China. She was a beautiful ship of 883 tons, 
built by Laurie & Co., of Glasgow, for Joseph Somes, and designed 
by Bernard Weymouth, Secretary of Lloyd's Register. She measured: 
length, 210 feet; breadth, 35 feet 2 inches; depth of hold, 20 feet 
8 inches. She was launched in 1867 and competed, with the Sir Lance- 
lot and some dozen older and newer flyers, in the China races for 
as long as they lasted, and was gainfully employed for many years 
thereafter. Her passages were: 1868, to Shanghai in 96 days, home in 
109 days; 1869, Foochow to London, 103 days, out again to Shanghai 
in 106 days; 1870, from Foochow to London, 103 days. In 1872, in 
a passage from London to Australia, she had two men washed over- 
board in a heavy sea, the helmsman's thigh being broken and the 
wheel split in half. She made the passage from the Start to Sydney 
in 92 days, but in 1874 made the passage from the Isle of Wight to 
Sydney in 74 days. In 1877 she loaded tea and silk at Woosung for 
New York, arriving out in 99 days, and in 1879 she made her China 
passage to London in 128 days. In 1880 she ran ashore near Port 
Phillip and was nearly lost, but was refloated; in 1881 she ran from 
Foochow to London in 104 days, and in 1882 in 119. She was still 
in the China trade in 1886, one of the very few clippers so occupied 
at that late date. 

The Sir Lancelot was sold that year to Messrs. Visram, Ibrahim of 
Bombay, and, under the command of Captain Brebner, author of 
a handbook for the Indian Ocean, traded in and about Bombay, Cal- 
cutta, and Mauritius; kept in beautiful condition, she was known 
familiarly up and down the coast as the "Yacht of the Indian Ocean." 
In 1895, she was sold to Persian owners, and given in charge of an 
Arab commander. In the autumn of the same year, laden with salt 
from the Red Sea, she foundered in a cyclone near Sand Heads at 
the mouth of the Hooghly. 

The Leander was owned in the 'nineties by R. Anderson, of Lon- 
don, but was sold to Muscat Arabs around 1892-3. She came to her 
end in the same way, and about the same time, as the Sir Lancelot. 
She, too, was laden with salt and bound from Muscat to Calcutta. 

Clipper Ship 

18 67 

built at 




tons 883 
depth 20f feet 

length 210 feet 
breadth 35fefeet 


British Tea Clippers 

X he race of 1866 was little more than a month gone by when an- 
other clipper was launched from the Steele yard at Greenock for the 
owners of the Ariel. This ship was the Titania, and, as with the Ariel, 
the daintiness of her appearance did not belie the name which Shaw, 
Maxton & Co. had given her. 

These Steele clippers, which included such able vessels as the Kate 
Carnie, Ellen Rodger, Falcon, Min, Guinevere, Serica, Taeping, Ariel, 
Sir Lancelot, Chinaman, Titania, Lahloo, Wylo, and Kaisow, were 
among the loveliest, most perfectly proportioned, and wettest ships 
the world has ever seen. They were extremely sensitive, but, properly 
handled, rarely failed to maintain the splendid average of passages 
for which they were noted; in fact, it was only on rare occasions 
that a Steele clipper did not either make the fastest passage of the year 
or lead the tea fleet to London. The Titania, when finally she was 
skippered by a captain who understood her idiosyncrasies, did not 
fail to keep up the Steele reputation, and even — on one or two occa- 
sions — to gain for herself a name that was envied by all but the Sir 
Lancelot and the Thermopylae. She was launched on November 26, 
1866, and measured: length, 200 feet; breadth, 36 feet; depth, 21 feet; 
tons, 879. Her masts, like those of the Ariel, were of iron. 

The Titania 's first commander was the cautious Captain Robert 

Deas, former master of the ship Ganges. As soon as she was ready 

for sea she took her departure for China, to compete in the 1867 race, 

but a temperamental passage outward — during which she lost her 



foremast, jib-boom, main topmast, and mizzen topgallant mast while 
on her beam ends in a squall north of the Cape Verde Islands, frac- 
tured her mainmast somewhere between the Cape Verdes and the 
meridian of the Cape, and nearly collided with the Ariel in a monsoon 
in the China seas on the 29th of June — lost her whatever opportuni- 
ties she might have had, under Captain Deas, to lead the tea fleet to 
London. The Ariel, under the wise and able command of Captain 
Keay, raced on to England, where she arrived 102 days later — first 
clipper in with the season's teas; while the Titania made her way 
to Shanghai to receive new main and mizzen masts. With these, and 
the new wooden foremast that was built for her at Rio on the out- 
ward passage, she reached London again before the close of the year. 

In the meantime Shaw & Maxton's old rival, Captain Rodger, had 
a companion ship built, by the Steeles, for his Taeping. This vessel, 
the Lahloo, was launched on July 23, 1867, and measured: length, 
191 feet 6 inches; breadth, 32 feet 9 inches; depth, 19 feet 9 inches; 
tons, 799. She resembled the Taeping in most respects, and, like that 
ship, carried single topsails and skysail yard at the main. Her first 
commander was Captain John Smith, formerly of the Wild Deer 
and the Min. 

In the race of 1868, the Lahloo was featured among the five cracks 
that sailed from Foochow in May; but the Titania, with a new set 
of iron spars, though still under Captain Deas, was one of the vessels 
that loaded at Shanghai and did not get away until June. The times 
of a dozen first- and second-flight ships for that year were given in 
Naval Science (1873) as follows: Ariel, from Foochow May 28, 97 
days; Spindrift, from Foochow May 29, 97 days; Sir Lancelot, from 
Foochow May 28, 98 days; Lahloo, from Foochow May 30, 100 days; 
Taeping, from Foochow May 28, 102 days; Undine, from Whampoa 
May 30, 104 days; S erica, from Foochow June 1, 113 days; Fiery 
Cross, from Foochow June 2, 121 days; Yang-tze, from Foochow June 
7, 122 days; Titania, from Shanghai June 13, 126 days; Forward Ho, 
from Shanghai June 11, 128 days; Challenger, from Shanghai July 
10, 131 days. 

Titania and Lahloo 


The Lahloo remained in the China trade until 1872, making her 
homeward passages in 102, 97, and in days. In 1869 her outward 
passage of 98 days to Shanghai was the best of the year, just as her 
97 days homeward (included above) was the best time made by a 
returning clipper. In 1872 she arrived at Shanghai, having made her 
passage by the long route around Australia, in 128 days, arriving out 
April 23. She took her departure again on June 20, and on July 31 
was completely wrecked on Sandalwood Island in the Timor Sea. 

The Titania had a much more fortunate career and was one of the 
longest-lived of the Steele clippers. After her return to London at 
the close of the race of 1868, she was placed under the command of 
Captain Burgoyne, who immediately put her through her paces by 
taking her out to Shanghai in 98 days. She returned in no days, and 
thereafter made the following passages between 1870 and 1882: 
Hankow to London, 116 days; Hongkong to Saigon, 6 days; Foochow 
to London, 93 days; London to Shanghai, 108 days; Whampoa to 
London, 116 days; the Lizard to Hobson's Bay, under reduced spars 
and commanded by Captain Hunt, 83 days; Newcasde to Shanghai, 
43 days; Shanghai to London, 138 days; St. Alban's Head to Adelaide, 
86 days; Sydney, July 2, 1875, to Shanghai, August 27, under com- 
mand of Captain England, arriving out under jury masts and needing 
repairs to the amount of $23,000; Hongkong to Deal, 100 days. In 
1875 and 1877 she missed the racing season, and in 1876 went to 
New York. In 1878 she arrived home from Shanghai in 100 days; but 
freight rates had dropped to 30s. per ton of 50 cubic feet that year, 
and the following year she went to Manila to load jute, which she 
took to New York in a passage of 112 days. She arrived at the latter 
port in company with the Wylo, 112 days from Yokohama. In 1881 
she went ashore near Maleron but was refloated, repaired, and loaded 
at Manila for Gravesend, completing the passage between the two 
points in 106 days. The following year she made a passage from 
Dover to Brisbane in 89 days. 

Some time between 1882 and 1886 she was purchased by the Hud- 
son's Bay Company and placed, under the command of Captain 


"Dandy" Dunn of the lavender kid gloves, on the Cape Horn route 
to Vancouver. In 189 1 Captain Dunn retired and Mr. Selby, first mate 
of the Cutty Sar\, was placed in command. 

In 1893 she was sold to the Italian firm of P. Pollio & Co., and at 
one time is said to have been the property of Madame Maresca of 
Castellammare. During these latter years of her life, until she was 
broken up at Marseilles in March, 19 10, she traded from Naples and 
Marseilles to Rio, Reunion, and Mauritius. 


British Tea Clipper 

rlvERY year there was a certain undercurrent of excitement among 
skippers and maritime-minded gamblers in China, when new and 
untried clippers put in their appearance and the favorite of the pre- 
vious year was threatened with the loss of her blue ribbon. But per- 
haps in no other year, when the races were in full swing, did any 
one tea ship carry such supremacy-stealing threats in her lines and 
her log book as did the Thermopylae, when she arrived at Foochow in 
1869 for tea. 

In appearance she. was quite a handsome vessel, but, being rather 
more powerfully built than the popular Clyde clippers from the yard 
of Steele, possessed little of that fragility and jewel-like daintiness 
which earned for those ships the right to be known as the darlings, 
the yachts, the little ladies of the sea. Like those vessels, however, 
she was as wet as a fish in heavy weather. She was flat-floored, or 
nearly so, and, aided by a rocker false-keel, had the saving grace of 
being weatherly; she was, as well, easy to handle, fast in average 
breezes, and a pace-maker in even the glassiest of seas. She was designed 
by Bernard Weymouth, designer of the Leander, and built by Walter 
Hood, of Aberdeen, for George Thompson, owner of the Aberdeen 
White Star Line. Her hull was painted the White Star Line's par- 
ticular shade of green (Aberdeen green) from the copper up; her 
blocks, lower masts, bowsprit and yardarms were white; her figure- 
head of Leonidas was also white; and she was ornamented with a 

gold stripe and delicate tracery of gold work at bow and stern. She 


3 02 C L I ppER SHIPS 

carried no sails above royals, but had very square yards and an enor- 
mous spread of cloth. She was composite-built, and measured : length, 
212 feet; breadth, 36 feet; depth, 20 feet 9 inches; tons, 948. She 
was launched on August 19, 1868, and in less than three months was 
ready for sea and took her departure, under the command of Captain 
Kemball, formerly of the Yang-tze, for Melbourne to load coal for 

She took her departure from Gravesend at 5:30 p.m. on November 
5, 1868, and at 6 p.m. on the 8th was 20 miles south of the Lizard. 
On the 1 2th she lost Peter Johnson, one of the seamen, overboard and 
hove-to for an hour in a vain attempt to rescue him. From then on 
until 7 p.m. January 9, 1869, she had an easy run of it, anchoring in 
Port Phillip Harbour exactly 63 days, 1 hour and 30 minutes from 
Gravesend. It was this passage (rubbing some of the luster from the 
James Baines's record-smashing run, in 1855, from Liverpool to Hob- 
son's Bay) which, added to another record run of 28 days, pilot to pilot, 
from Newcastle to Shanghai, caused all the consternation in China 
when she arrived out in 1869. Her best days' runs to Melbourne were 
330 and 326 miles, and, on the passage to China, she had passed the 
Golden, the latter from Sydney to Shanghai in 59 days. 

From Shanghai the Thermopylae sailed to Foochow with a gilded 
cock at her maintruck — a bit of ostentation which was resented by the 
crews of all the other clippers and was stolen by a sailor believed to 
have been from the Taeping. Eight of the old favorites, mostly back 
from Bangkok (where the Crown Prince was fond of reading Bow- 
ditch), Yokohama, and other intermediate ports, were at Foochow at 
that time, and, together with the Thermopylae, they loaded tea, sailed, 
and arrived home in the following fashion: Ariel, 30th June to 12th 
October, 104 days; Leander, 1st July to 12th October, 103 days; Lah- 
loo, 2nd July to 12th October, 102 days; Thermopylae, 3rd July to 
2nd October, 91 days; Spindrift, 4th July to 18th October, 106 days; 
Taeping, 9th July to 24th October, 107 days; Sir Lancelot, 17th July 
to 14th October, 89 days; Serica, 27th July to 14th November, no 
days; Falcon, 28th July to 15th November, no days. 



The clippers that sailed from Shanghai made the following pas- 
sages: Undine, 2nd April to 2nd August, 122 days; Forward Ho, 10th 
June to 2nd October, 114 days; Titania, 16th June to 22nd September, 
98 days; Taitsing, 21st June to 14th October, 115 days; Challenger, 
6th August to 1 st January (1870), 148 days. 

The Thermopylae, having weighed anchor at the Pagoda Anchor- 
age at 5 a.m on July 3 and taken her Dungeness pilot at 5 p.m. on 
October 1, was the first of the tea fleet to arrive at London. She had 
passed Anjier light, bearing S.S.W. eight miles, at 6 p.m., July 28, on 
the 25th day from her anchorage ; had spoken the Leander on August 
2 and kept her in sight for the two days following; had sighted the 
steamer Achilles coming up on August 17, but by sunset, in a rising 
breeze, left her out of sight astern; had rounded the Cape of Good 
Hope on August 21, 49 days out; had sighted the Lizard on September 
30; and on October 1 was at Beachy Head. But the Sir Lancelot, sailing 
14 days later, made the fastest passage of the fleet. Highlights from her 
log are interesting: 

Up anchor at Foochow and left the 

anchorage 7 a.m. 17th July 

White Dogs bore N.N.E. 15 miles 18th July 

Anjier Light bore E.S.E. 10 miles 7th August — 21 days out 

Land about Buffalo River (Cape) 28th August — 42 days out 

Signaled St. Helena nth September — 56 days out 

Sighted Lizard 10th October — 84 days out 

Passed Deal 13th October — 88 days out 

Berthed in West India Dock 14th October — 89 days out 

Mr. MacCunn, owner of the Sir Lancelot, who provided Mr. W. S. 
Lindsay with the above facts taken from her log, added : "The great- 
est day's work of the Sir Lancelot was crossing from Anjier to the 
Cape, when she made, by observation, 354 miles in 24 hours. For 7 
days (consecutive) she averaged on the same track, with a beam wind, 
slightly over 300 miles per day; but I think the most remarkable fea- 
ture in the sailing of this ship was the maintenance of a comparative 

- mm 


high speed in light winds, and the great power she had to beat dead 
to windward against a strong breeze." The Thermopylae's best day 
was 318 miles. 

The following year the Thermopylae made her Australian passage 
in 20 days from the Downs to the Line and 60 days 10 hours 15 min- 
utes from the Lizard to her anchor at Hobson's Bay, but she never 
again came so near to making history in the tea fleet as she did in 
1869. From 1870 to 1881, when she made her last tea passage, her 
times were: 106 days from Foochow in 1870; 106, 115, 101, and 104 
days from Shanghai from 1871 to 1875; IX 5 days eacn fro m Foochow 
in 1875 and 1876; 102 and no days from Shanghai in 1877 and 
1878; and 107 days in 1881-2. Her passages to Australia from Eng- 
land, from 1872 to 1885, were: Lizard to Hobson's Bay, 67 and 70 
days in 1872 and 1873; London Docks to Hobson's Bay, 72 days in 
1874; Lizard to Melbourne, 64 days in 1875; London to Melbourne, 
68 and 80 days in 1876 and 1877; Lizard to Melbourne, 74 days in 
1878; Channel to Port Jackson, 86 days in 1881; Lizard to Port Jack- 
son, 73 days in 1882; and Start to Port Phillip, 78 days in 1885. 

By 1879 tea cargoes for sailing ships were becoming excessively 
scarce, and the Thermopylae did not go out to China, but loaded wool 
for home both that and the following year, making her passages 
from Sydney in 81 and 90 days. In 1882 she became a regular member 
of the wool fleet, averaging 83 days 18 hours per passage to London, 
from that year to 1890, when she was sold by the Aberdeen White 
Star Line to Mr. Reford of Montreal, President of the Rice Milling 
Company. She continued her career as a rice trader, sailing between 
Rangoon and Vancouver, until 1895, when she was sold again — this 
time to the Portuguese Government to be used as a training ship. She 
was renamed the Pedro Nunes. In 1907 it was decided that she was 
no longer of use to the government, and on October 13 th she was 
towed out of the Tagus and torpedoed. She was 39 years old at the 

Passages of the Clipper Ship 


1868 - 1869 

Clipper Ship 



Built at ABERDEEN by Walter Hood 

length 212 feet 
depth 20! feet 


36 feet 



British Tea Clipper 

A he year 1869 brought about the realization of two dreams: the one, 
after centuries of promise, becoming reality, with an international sig- 
nificance in the accomplishment of a permanent, practical waterway 
between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea; and the other — a small, 
private dream only — becoming reality without such significance, but, 
in its accomplishment, blessed too with the power to wash away time, 
to stave off the decaying tides that harass those things which have 
been dreamed by man, made by man, and remembered by him only 
to the extent of their usefulness, and to strike straight across the years 
on the heartstrings of sentiment to a resting place in the treasure house 
of Britain's dearest and most charming possessions. 

To the clipper-ship enthusiast these two realized dreams — the for- 
mal opening of the Suez Canal and the launching of the Cutty Sar\ — 
will always be closely interwoven, partly because both occurred in 
the same month of the same year, and partly because the Suez Canal 
slashed like a destroying blade through everything represented by the 
Cutty Sar\ and the clipper ships of which she was one of the last. 
The Canal, begun in 1859 by the diplomatist-engineer, Ferdinand de 
Lesseps, was opened to the ships of all nations on the 16th of Novem- 
ber, 1869, by the Empress Eugenie of France, in the presence of some 
of the most distinguished men and women of the day. Seven days 
later, in Scotland, a bottle of wine was smashed over the Cutty Sard's 
bow, and she was christened by Mrs. Moodie, the wife of her first 

commander; the cheers that attended her progress down the ways 




came largely from the throats of the carpenters who had built her, and 
of the people of Dumbarton who had watched her grow into the 
sonsie Scotch beauty that she was. 

The Cutty Sarl(s owner, John Willis — or Old White Hat, as he 
was called in London — was the "Son" of the firm John Willis & Son, 
and owner of a number of clippers, including the Lammermuir and 
the Whiteadder in the 'fifties and 'sixties, and of the Hallowe'en 
and the Blac\adder in the 'seventies. He also owned The Tweed, 
which was originally a paddle-wheeler named the Punjaub built in 
Bombay in 1854 by the Parsees for the East India Marine. The Tweed 
was built of Malabar teak and is said to have been modeled on the 
lines of a fast French frigate. After Captain Willis had her converted 
into a sailing ship, she proved to be a noteworthy passage-maker, and 
served as the inspiration for the lines of the Hallowe'en and the 
Blackadder, both fast ships built entirely of iron. It is said also that 
Hercules Linton (of Scott & Linton, builders of the Cutty Sarf() 
derived his design for the Cutty's very sharp bow from The Tweed, 
but this statement has since been scouted as largely conjectural: the 
design of the Cutty is simply good, uninfluenced clipper-ship design 
with no more and no less of the frigate about her than any other such 
ship of the period had. Her angular forefoot, said to have been bor- 
rowed from The Tweed, was not an uncommon feature of the clipper 
— Webb's Challenge and Young America possessed it, as did the Rain- 
bow and others — and it was always well realized that an angular fore- 
foot gave the gripe necessary for a ship to eat her way to windward. 
In spite of this forefoot — which usually tended to make a vessel un- 
handy in stays — the Cutty Sarl{ had the reputation for "coming 
about" with ease and alacrity, though the reason for this can probably 
be found in the position of her masts. She was masted beautifully; in 
fact, in this respect, her sheer plan offers one of the prettiest pictures of 
precise masting to be found anywhere among the plans of sailing 

At the time Captain Willis commissioned Scott & Linton, of the 
Woodyard, Dumbarton, to build a ship — at the very low price of £iy 



a ton — "to beat the Thermopylae," the partnership was in its infancy. 
After throwing all their resources into good sound materials for the 
hull of the Cutty — their first ship — they found themselves, about two 
months from the launching date, unable to continue. Jock Willis re- 
fused to help them out financially, and the creditors took over the 
contract, engaging Denny Bros., also of Dumbarton, to finish the 
work. Since the Dennys have been accused of allowing certain defects 
to creep into their finishing touches on the Cutty — specifically in the 
ironwork aloft — a biographical note of this talented family may not be 
amiss. According to Mr. W. S. Lindsay : 

"William Denny, the builder of the Rob Roy, as also of the Mar- 
jory* was born in Dumbarton in 1789, where his forefathers for 
some generations had been 'wee lairds' [yeomen] farming their own 
land. After serving his apprenticeship as a joiner and ship-carpenter, 
and acting as manager of a small shipbuilding yard on the River 
Leven, Dumbarton, he commenced business on his own account at 
that place, and was the first to lay down in his yard Morton's patent 
slips, where he built various sailing ships for the East and West India 
trades. He died in December, 1833. Three of his sons, also, William, 
Alexander, and Peter, commenced business at that place as iron ship- 
builders in 1844, on a small piece of ground, removing in 1847 to a 
larger yard, where they continued the business of iron shipbuilders 
under the firm of William Denny and Brothers, by which it is still 
known. In 1851, two other brothers, James and Archibald, having 
then joined them, they (there were seven brothers, all shipbuilders) 
commenced the business of forging, so that all the branches of work 
connected with steam shipbuilding might be done on the spot. 
William was a man of remarkable genius and talent, and attained so 
high a reputation as a marine architect that he and his brother Alex- 
ander planned most of the steamers built on the Clyde from 1839 to 

* The Rob Roy, a vessel of 90 tons with 30 horse-power engines, was the first steamer 
to engage in Channel service. She was employed for two years, without requiring 
repairs, to carry mails and passengers, between Greenock and Belfast. As the Due 
d'Orleans she ran, subsequently, as a packet between Calais and Dover. Her engines 
'were by Napier and she was launched in 181 8. The Marjory, also one of David 
Napier's steamers, was launched late in 18 14, and was one of the first steam vessels 
to ply on the Thames. 


1844. He died in 1854, and the only brother now left is the youngest, 
Mr. Peter Denny, who, with his son and Mr. Walter Brock, carries on 
this well-known and extensive business, which, in the years 1873 and 
1874, built and fitted with engines 37,000 tons of iron screw-ships. 
Since 1844 the town of Dumbarton has risen, almost entirely through 
their exertions, from a population of 4000 to 12,000 inhabitants. But, 
beyond his fame as an iron ship-builder, Mr. Peter Denny is known 
in public life, having been appointed a member of the Royal Com- 
mission in 1872 of which the Duke of Somerset was Chairman, to 
inquire into the cause of loss of life and property at sea." 

It seems highly improbable that the Dennys would have hastened, 
or scamped, their work on the Cutty, within the limits of the finances 
and time allotted for her completion, and that the cause for whatever 
defects she may have had aloft must be sought for elsewhere. She 
was rigged, at Greenock, between December 21, 1869, and January 
13, 1870. 

The Cutty Sar\ was, like most of her rivals, of composite con- 
struction, and most of the woodwork about her was of the long-lasting 
teak of which Captain Willis was so fond. At a few points other 
woods were employed : her keel was of American rock elm as was the 
outside planking of her bottom, and her between-deck (three inches 
thick) and hatches were of pine. She was given a generous amount of 
brasswork trimming about the decks, her hull was black with a gold 
line at the height of her main deck, and she was sheathed with yellow 
metal. Her upper masts and yards were of Oregon pine, painted 
black; but her lower masts, lower yards, and bowsprit were of iron. 
These latter spars were painted white, as were also her doublings, 
mastheads, jib-boom end, martingale boom, spanker gaff and boom, and 
spencer gaff. All her standing rigging, with the exception of that of 
the bowsprit and jib-boom martingales, was of wire; her hearts, bulls' 
eyes, and dead-eyes were of lignum vita?, and her running-gear blocks 
had ball-bearing sheaves. Her shrouds were carried inside the bul- 
warks — an unusual feature at that time. Her measurements, with the 
exception of tonnage, are practically those of the Thermopylae: 




length, 212 feet 5 inches; breadth, 36 feet; depth moulded, 22 feet 5 
inches; tons net, 921. Her sail plan was designed by John Rennie. 

Since the Cutty Sar\ received her name — with a sparkling show of 
originality and wit on the part of her owner — from the cutty sark 
(wee shirt or short chemise) worn by the witch Nannie in Robert 
Burns's Tarn o'Shanter, her white figurehead was appropriately that 
of Nannie; and, around the trail-boards, the other participants in the 
witches' revel (which Tarn, with a few drinks under his belt, spied 
upon one dark and stormy night while riding home from market on 
his old gray mare Maggie) capered in such undraped glee that the 
sensitive century demanded their removal and the substitution of 
innocuous gilt scrollwork. Other bits of Hellyer's carving were lost 
to posterity when Nannie's head and her outstretched arm (in the 
hand of which it was the custom to place the gray mare's tail when 
the Cutty was nearing port) were washed away, in the roaring forties, 
when the ship was commanded by Captain Woodget. The new head 
and arm were not well modeled. 

Until she was sold to the Portuguese in 1895, the Cutty Sard's 
career was divided into two major divisions, the dividing line — 
between the nine years she carried general cargo to Australia, coal to 
China, and tea to London, and the twelve years she was engaged in 
the wool trade — being the fantastic interlude from 1880 to the spring 
of 1882. 

She was not conspicuously successful in the China trade. The fol- 
lowing are her outward passages from February 16, 1870 — the day she 
sailed on her maiden passage under Captain Moodie — to her passage 
in 1879, when she, in company with every other sailing ship, failed 
to get a cargo of tea when the market opened, and came to the bitter 
realization that the tea trade, so far as sailing ships were concerned, 
was definitely over: 104, 99, and 108 days direct to Shanghai; 69 
days from the Start to Port Phillip, 41 to Shanghai; 79 days to Sydney, 
54 days to Shanghai; 73 days from the Start to Sydney, 48 to Shang- 
hai; 75 days from the Lizard to Sydney (log recording 370 miles 
several times during passage), 49 days to Shanghai; and, in 1876-7, 


81 days from London to Sydney, 47 to Shanghai. In November, 1877, 
she cleared from London for Sydney but was forced to turn back to 
escape an approaching storm, which caught up with her, however, 
in the Downs, where she, with a host of shipping, had run for shelter. 
During the night, when the storm broke, her cables parted and she 
drifted about crazily, fouling one vessel and then another, until she 
was rescued by the tugs Macgregor and Benachie and towed to a safe 
anchorage off Greenhithe. The tugs entered a lawsuit against her 
for ,£8,000 salvage money, but received only ^3,000. And a bit of 
skullduggery on the part of her carpenter — in destroying certain evi- 
dence — saved her from paying damages to one of the vessels she had 
fouled on the night of November 11. The Cutty herself sustained 
minor injuries, but her cargo, valued at £85,000, was unharmed. 

On December 22 she left the Docks — the same day the Ther- 
mopylae left Deal. The green clipper gained a good eight days on the 
passage to the Line, but from the Line the Cutty worked ahead and 
made up the difference in time with a margin over. She arrived at 
Sydney 72 days out, and the Thermopylae arrived at Melbourne 74 
days out. The Cutty sailed from Sydney on March 13, 1878, and 
arrived at Shanghai in 40 days, thence to Sydney again and back to 
Shanghai in 52 days. On the last transpacific run she beat the clipper 
Hallowe'en by seven days. 

Her homeward passages were made in 112, no, 122 (with a jury 
rudder), 117, 118 (Woosung pilot to Deal), 122 (Woosung to Deal), 
109, and 127 days. At the end of her passage in 1872 — which began 
as a race with the Thermopylae (both vessels gaining Anjier in 28 
days) but failed to continue as an even match when the Cutty lost 
her rudder in the Indian Ocean — Captain Moodie resigned his com- 
mand to go into steam, and was succeeded by Captain F. W. Moore, 
Captain Willis's superintendent. After one round in the Cutty, Cap- 
tain Moore resumed his duties with Willis, and he was succeeded by 
Captain Tiptaft. After her 40-day passage from Sydney to Shanghai 
in March- April, 1878, the Cutty was withdrawn from her loading 
berth (because of low freight rates then prevailing) and sent to Naga- 


saki with a cargo of coal. Her outward passage was made in 7 days 
and she returned, to Woosung, in 3. At the end of this passage Cap- 
tain Tiptaft died and was succeeded by Captain Wallace, who took 
her light from Shanghai to Sydney in 51 days. In 1879 there was not 
the slightest hope of getting a tea cargo at even the lowest price 
(steamships were racing to Suez then), and the Cutty Sar\ sailed to 
Manila where she picked up a cargo of jute for New York. She sailed 
from Manila on September 23 and arrived at New York on January 
12, 1880, in in days. From Sandy Hook to the Thames ate up 
another 19 sailing days, and after her arrival home (March 19, 1880) 
nine and a half feet were cut from her lower masts and her other 
spars were reduced in proportion. 

On June 7, 1880 — having picked up a cargo of coal at Penarth for 
the American fleet in the Pacific, and from thence being driven to 
seek shelter in the Severn to ride out a gale — she took her departure 
from Lundy Island to begin the mad, nightmare passage of her career. 
From the very beginning the crew was unsettled and irritable, and, 
save for the pleasant interlude when the Cutty met the Titania and 
raced that dainty sea-sprite part of the way, there was bad blood 
between one man and another. The undercurrent of hate, which 
accompanied the Cutty's journeying to Anjier, finally swept the mate 
and John Francis, a colored seaman, together and, under the steamy 
skies in the unbearable calms of the doldrums, the two fought and the 
negro was killed. The Cutty reached Anjier in the fine sailing time 
of 69 days from Lundy and, while the vessel waited for orders to 
proceed, the mate, aided by Captain Wallace, was smuggled aboard 
the American ship Colorado* When the mate's absence was discov- 
ered, the crew demanded an accounting and, four days after the 
vessel left Anjier, Captain Wallace quietly walked to the tarfrail and 
stepped overboard. 

It was back to Anjier then, and the Cutty was taken from thence 

*The manner in which Sydney Smith, the mate, disappeared from the Cutty Sar\ 
remained a mystery for some time. Joseph Conrad suggests an imaginary solution in 
The Secret Sharer. 



to Singapore in the charge of a Dutch pilot. At Singapore that curi- 
ous mixture of piety, drunkenness, and cruelty, that supreme navigator 
and coward — Captain Bruce — came aboard, and from then on the 
Cutty's career was a fantastic meandering from port to port. From 
Singapore she went to Calcutta where she picked up an atheistic new 
mate and a cargo of jute, castor-oil, tea, and the mails for Australia. 
On the passage out her after bulkhead filled with water from a small 
leak, and her captain cowered until the bulkhead was pumped dry and 
the trouble was over; at Williamstown a foremast hand was drowned; 
from Sydney Heads to Shanghai was a 46-day drinking bout for the 
captain and the mate; and at American Town nearly all hands were 
down with cholera. After the vessel was out of quarantine she was 
ordered to Zebu for a cargo of jute for New York. She spent the latter 
part of October, all of November, and six days in December at Zebu, 
and thence made a fine 28-day run to Anjier. In the midst of 
another drinking bout at Anjier the ship was ordered to be got under 
weigh and another train of events ensued: the mate and the captain 
quarreled and the mate locked himself in his cabin until the southeast 
trades were reached, another man was lost overboard, and the captain 
proceeded to give the apprentices excellent instructions in navigation 
while, at the same time, provisions were running short. No attempt 
was made to replenish food supplies at either the Cape or St. Helena, 
and, after the latter port was left astern, the captain of the Cutty 
began to cadge provisions from passing ships — a matter which would 
have shocked old Jock Willis, in spite of his reputation for thrift. 
Early in April the vessel neared New York and, after hanging about 
the harbor for days, finally picked up a pilot and was towed, on the 
10th of the month, to a berth near Brooklyn Bridge. Her time was 
125 days from Zebu, and 1 year 10 months and 3 days from the day 
in June, 1880, when she had taken her departure from Lundy. 

Captain Bruce and the first mate were discharged, and Captain 
E. Moore, then at New York with the Blac\adder , was transferred 
to the Cutty Sar\. The ship remained under his command until 1885, 
when she was given to that charming sea-dog, Captain Woodget — 


identifiable by his tarn o'shanter, his umbrella, his camera, and his 
beautiful sable collies. 

The Cutty's first passage under Captain Moore was a long one to 
Anjier, thence to Samarang, thence to Madras (half the crew down 
with fever), thence to Bimlipatam, thence to Coconado. At Coconado 
she picked up a cargo of jaggery which eventually turned to molasses 
— or "long-tailed sugar," as a sailor would say — and it was necessary 
to man the pumps. She arrived off the Lizard May 31, 1883, and was 
at her London dock — home once more after an absence of over three 
years — on June 2. Her following two passages, commanded by Cap- 
tain Moore, were made in 79 days each from the Lizard to Newcastle; 
home with wool in 82 and 80 days. 

At the termination of her second passage from Newcastle, Cap- 
tain Moore was transferred to The Tweed and Captain Woodget, 
formerly of the Coldstream, assumed command. On the 19th of June, 
1885, at the end of her first passage under Captain Woodget, she was 
at Port Jackson, 77 days from the Start. On her homeward passage 
she had her long-awaited opportunity to race the Thermopylae and, 
to old Jock Willis's intense satisfaction, she beat the green clipper by 
seven days. The occasion for which the old man had waited fifteen 
years did not go unnoticed. The Cutty Sar\ received a gift in honor 
of the victory: a golden shirt to wear atop her maintruck to match 
the Thermopylae's golden cock. A party was held on board, February 
17, 1886 — the day the Cutty was to sail to China "to lower the Sir 
Lancelot's old record" — and the old man presented the gift in person. 

The Cutty Sar\ made her passage to Shanghai in 124 days, but 
the opportunity to show up the Sir Lancelot never came. After wait- 
ing three and a half months for a cargo for home, she was forced to 
up-anchor and sail for Sydney in ballast for a cargo of wool. She 
arrived out in 58 days and reached home in 72. Her other passages, 
from 1887 to 1895, under Captain Woodget, were: days out — 89, 
76, 78, 75, 79, 83, 80, and 79; days home— 69, 86, 75, 93, 83, 98 (to 
Antwerp), 87, and 84. 

Upon the Cutty's return in 1895 Captain Woodget was transferred 


to the Coldinghame and the ship was sold in July, to Ferreira & Co. 
of Lisbon, for ^2,100. From then on — officially known as the Fer- 
reira, but unofficially as the Pequina Camisola — she tramped between 
Oporto and the Portuguese colonies; and Britain thought no more 
about her until she appeared, rather unexpectedly, at Cardiff in 1905, 
and then again in the Mersey in June, 19 14 — the month the world 
was ringing with the news of the assassination of the Archduke Fran- 
cis of Austria and his wife at Sarajevo. In February, 19 15, the German 
official submarine blockade of Great Britain began, and the same 
month the Cutty appeared off Point Lynas. In April, 1916, she loaded 
coal at Delagoa Bay, and 21 days later was towed, in a helpless condi- 
tion, to Table Bay, by the Blue Funnel steamer Indraghiri. At Cape- 
town she was re-rigged as a barquentine and at long last was out to sea 
again in 19 18. In 19 19 she was at Havre and in June once more in the 
Thames, where she appeared again in 1921 — 50 days from Pensacola. 
Then she was sold again to another Portuguese owner and became 
the Maria di Ampero; but in September, 1922, she was brought back 
to the British flag by Captain Dowman — an old British sentimentalist, 
who might have been influenced by the tremendous excitement cre- 
ated by her occasional appearances in British waters, but who was 
probably more influenced by the fact that he had kept alive too long 
his memories as a sailor. Whatever his reasons were (and those of 
Mrs. Dowman — she wanted the ship as much as he), the price paid 
was ^3,750, and a great deal more was expended later to bring her 
back to her original beauty and to fit her out and maintain her as a 
training ship for boys for the Royal Navy and the Merchant Service. 
It is a matter for permanent regret that America had no such senti- 
mentalists in 1920 to rescue the 67-year-old Dashing Wave or the 69- 
year-old Syren from their ignominious ends. 

If the Cutty Sar\ celebrates two more birthdays, as she no doubt 
will, the palm must therefore go to a British clipper for winning the 
last race, and the longest. 


Today the Cutty Sar\ lies on the waters of Falmouth Harbour, 
rising and falling like a quaint jewel on the breast of England; and 
the time has come to roar out once more — as Tarn roared out to 
Nannie as she "lap and flang," and as old Jock Willis roared out to 
his ship when the little gold shirt of victory was pinned atop her main- 

"Weel done, Cutty Sark!" 

And so the clipper ships pass, gesturing for attention across the 
years and, once more, across the pages of a book. In the cold light of 
twentieth-century reasoning, the nineteenth-century sunshine remains 
undimmed upon their sails, and, in the shadows of adverse argument, 
their hulls — already dark — only deepen further into a faultless, death- 
less beauty for that strange creature whose heart looks through his eyes 
when he sees a ship. 



18 69 

built at DUMBARTON 
drawn from Lloyd's plans 

length 212ft feet -length of keel 203* feet 
extreme breadth 36 ft. -breadth moulded 35 ft 
depth of hold 31 feet-depth moulded 22ftft. 
tons gross 9629 -tons net 961-39 





SCJIC W 3 -40 10 »« 1((f 


Some Technical Observations 


he average writer of deep-sea literature assumes on the part of 
the reader a knowledge of maritime technical details approximating 
that of the naval architect, the builder, and the seaman; and for this 
reason dispenses with imparting certain necessary technical knowl- 
edge without which the casual reader not only is lost in a maze of 
words and ideas, but cannot interpret for himself the material laid 
before him, and is deafened to practically all the delicate overtones 
and undertones that add so materially to the fascinating story of the 
sea — and of ships. On the other hand, if the casual reader is imbued 
with the desire to become less "casual" and more "reader," he must 
search for the right technical books to read, and, unfortunately, these 
are, as far as the old wooden ships are concerned, becoming scarcer 
as the years go by; and, when they can be procured, are sometimes 
almost prohibitive in price. Lack of space naturally forbids incor- 
porating in these pages the exceedingly intricate details of the science 
of naval architecture, of shipbuilding, and of seamanship, but it is 
hoped that the following capsules of information will supply rudi- 
ments of the subject even beyond the needs of the more-than-casual 

The true understanding of ships falls into five principal divisions: 
One requires a familiarity with the names of the parts of a ship; Two 
requires an understanding of the naval architect's plans; Three re- 
quires an elementary knowledge, at least, of the science of naval archi- 
tecture; Four requires a clearing up of some of the mystery surrounding 

the building of a ship; and Five requires some acquaintance with sea- 


«^^^_ __ .. _ — - 


manship, or the art of working a ship. These subjects will be dealt 
with in turn. 

Parts of the Hull 

(See Clipper Ship Plan, Pages 360-1) 

These fall into three major divisions, or sets of divisions, the units 
of each bearing a family likeness one to another. They are: (a) stem, 
forefoot, keel, heel, sternpost; (b) bow, midship section, stern; and 
(c) entrance, floor, run. 

(a) The \eel is the principal piece of timber in the entire ship, and 
is usually the first to be laid on the blocks in building. It extends 
longitudinally along the very bottom of the ship from the stem to the 
sternpost, or, in other words, from one end of the ship to the other. 
The stem is another piece of timber, which is scarfed into the keel at 
the forward part (thus forming a continuation of the keel) and curves 
upward almost vertically to form the extreme front, or cutwater, of 
the hull. The place of union between stem and keel is called the fore- 
foot, and this forefoot — since ships are usually launched stern-first into 
the water — is the very last part of the hull to leave the stocks. The 
sternpost, from which the rudder is hung, is the upward continuation 
of the keel at the after part. The place of union between the two is 
called the heel. In examining plans, it is important not to confuse the 
shape of the stem with the bow proper, or the sternpost with the stern. 

(b) The bow is all the forward part of the ship, where the planks 
of the hull arch inward and terminate at the stem. The midship sec- 
tion (not to be confused with the "middle" of the ship or "amidships") 
is a technical term applied to the hull at its point of greatest breadth ; 
it is, in other words, the most rotund portion of the ship, its very 
middle being called the dead-flat. In plans, the dead-flat is distin- 
guished by the character d; the timbers before the dead-flat are 
marked A, B, C, etc., on the plans, while those abaft it are marked 
1, 2, 3, etc. The word stern is applied to the posterior of the ship, 
as bow is to the forward part. 



(c) The entrance is the forepart of the hull under the load water- 
line. The floor is practically the bottom of the ship, and is all that 
part, extending outward on each side of the keel, which is more nearly 
horizontal than perpendicular. The run is the narrowing of the ship's 
floor toward the sternpost, where it becomes no broader than the post 

Reading of Plans 

If one wishes to visualize a ship at sea, in all its beauty under sail 
and in various conditions of wind and weather, one must go to the 
painting or the print; but if one wants to know the details of the 
shape of a ship both above and below the water, and at several angles, 
it is absolutely necessary to seek such information from the naval 
architect's plans. The former convey something of the poetry and 
romance of the subject robbed of the pettiness and fuss of detail, but 
the latter are all detail — they show, in fact, the anatomy of the ship. 

The plans, of which there are three — half-breadth plan, sheer plan, 
and body plan — are more easily studied collectively than individually. 
They contain, among them, all the outlines of a ship's hull, and from 
them can be obtained all the necessary dimensions for constructing 
a scale-model or a full-sized ship. 

The significance of the plans can probably be understood better 
by dividing a hull into portions than by attempting to reconstruct it. 
Take, for instance, a small wooden model of the hull of a ship — say, 
one similar to the Stag Hound. Saw the model lengthwise into two 
halves, and mark off athwartships (the way the seats of a boat go) any 
number of lines all stationed the same distance apart. (In this case, the 
Stag Hound would be marked into ninety equal parts.) Find the 
line that marks the exact center of the point of widest beam, and 
indicate this point with the dead-flat symbol. Then, moving from left 
to right (or from the dead-flat symbol toward the bow), mark these 
lines from A to Z — omitting I, so that it will not be confused with the 
numeral "i" — and, from then on, in order to continue alphabetically, 


from a to v — again omitting i. Now, from right to left, or from the 
dead-flat symbol to the stern, mark the lines from 1 to 42. Following 
this, erase all the lines except those marked 38, 36, 32, 28, 24, 20, 16, 
8, 4, dead-flat, D, H, M, Q, u, y, c, g, 1, and n. These are called 
station lines, and will be found in the foregoing order on the half- 
breadth plan of the Stag Hound, page 85. 

Now take the half-model and saw it through the lines marked n, 
g, y, Q, H, dead-flat; and also through the lines marked 8, 16, 24, 32, 
and 38. The outline of each sawed-off portion will correspond exacdy 
to the outline identified by the same letter or numeral on the body 
plan of the Stag Hound. It will be seen, therefore, that the body plan 
is simply a telescoped version of a hull as seen, on one side, from the 
bow to the midship section, and, on the other side, from the midship 
section to the stern. The upward curving lines on the body plan 
actually represent those patterns, or moulds, which control the shapes 
of all the ribs and intermediate ribs of the ship, and therefore control 
the shape of the ship itself. It is to the body plans one must look when 
comparing the shapes of bows and sterns. 

The sheer plan represents the cut-surface of the half-model. If, 
instead of having sawed the half-model crosswise, one had marked the 
cut-surface with a series of horizontal lines — to indicate the various 
waterlines of the ship — and had then sawed through these waterlines, 
the shapes of the sawed-off portions would fit into the curving lines 
on the half-breadth plan. The model-maker, who builds models ac- 
cording to the "bread and butter" system, actually does saw out thick 
pieces of wood to fit the various curving shapes of the half-breadth plan. 
These pieces, piled one on top of the other and shaped, constitute a 
miniature hull of a ship before it is planked. It can be seen, therefore, 
that the half-breadth plan is simply another telescoped view of the 
ship — as seen from above. 

It will be noticed, on some of the plans — the Rainbow, for instance 
— that the half-breadth plan is spaced off, also, by lines running fore 
and aft. If one were to saw downward through these, the sawed-off 
portions would fit into the curving lines (called buttoc\ lines) on the 



sheer plan. This is again the telescoped version, as seen from the side. 
The sheer plan also shows the shapes of the stem, sternpost, and, 
occasionally, of the rudder, and the gunports, if any. The topmost line 
running from the bow to the stern is spoken of as the sheer line of 
the vessel, and the curve of this graceful line is frequently responsible 
for much of the beauty of the ship. 

Summary of Lines. The vertical lines on the sheer plan, and the lines 
running across the beam of the half-breadth plan, are the curved lines 
of the body plan. The horizontal lines on the body plan, and the 
horizontal lines on the sheer plan, are the curved lines on the half- 
breadth plan. The fore-and-aft lines on the half-breadth plan, and 
the vertical lines on the body plan, are the curved lines on the sheer 
plan. In this way the three plans work with, and complement, one 

A c 


UPPER -Snip 


6 D 


Comparison of Bows 

Comparison of 5tern5 

Line a-b comparative height op cupper bow 

Comparison between Body Plan of a Clipper and That of a Frigate. 
Note the knifelike (concave) bow of the clipper, and compare it with 
the rounded (convex) one of the frigate, and note also that the 
bows of each are of equal height. Compare this plan with the stern 
view of the same ships, and note that the clipper stern is much lower 
than either its own bow or the stern of the frigate. The graceful, sheer 
line of the clipper is responsible for the difference in heights. 


Rudiments of the Science of Naval 

How a Ship is Made to Swim and Carry Her Weights. According to 
the Archimedean law of displacement, a body (a) placed under water 
displaces as much water as its own bul\, and (b) floats when it 
weighs less than the weight of the water it displaces. A lump of lead 
when placed in water will sink; the same lump, thinned out in the 
form of a box, will float; yet the weight of the lead in each instance 
is the same, although the amount of water displaced will differ. The 
depth of the box in the water and its height out of the water are 
both determined by the balance maintained between the weight of the 
box and its bulk. 

The depth at which such a box sits in the water is called light dis- 
placement; the depth at which it sits, when filled with the greatest 
amount of weight it can safely carry, is called load displacement. 
Hence the terms light line of ship and load waterline. If the box, or 
vessel, is not intended to sit in the water on an even \eel, it is said to 
be trimmed by the stern, or to have drag (see sheer plan of the Ann 
McKim) or, if required to be deeper at the forepart, to be trimmed 
by the head. 

After having determined the specific type and size of ship desired, 
the designer takes into consideration three measurements: (1) the 
weight of the hull plus all fixed weights (spars and other stationary 
equipment), (2) the draft, and (3) trim. From these, he calculates 
geometrically the bulk of the immersed body. If the cubic feet of 
this measurement displaces water to the same weight of the hull (plus 
fixed weights) he knows that he has arrived at the correct light dis- 
placement to give the ship. The same geometrical calculations are 
made for the immersed body, when laden with cargo as well, and the 
true load waterline is thus determined. The rule is that 1 ton weight 
displaces 35 cubic feet of salt water. Therefore a body with 35 cubic 
feet of bulk under water will float one ton ; 70 cubic feet of immersed 


section will float 2 tons, and so on. The bul\, not the shape, of a vessel 
has everything to do with her power to swim and carry a load. 
Buoyancy. A ship is made to swim and carry her weights without 
sinking, because the upward pressure, exerted by the water under the 
ship, will counteract the downward pressure made by the ship herself. 
The more underwater bottom given to the ship, the more buoyant will 
she be. A ship will always sit in the water just as much as is required 
to float her, and no more. The low draft of a big flat-bottomed boat is 
no mystery when it is understood that sea-water exerts an upward 
pressure of 64 pounds on each square foot of bulk 1 foot under water, 
of 128 pounds on each square foot of bulk 2 feet under water, and 
so on. A ship is buoyant, therefore, in exact proportion to the size 
of her underwater body. 

Stability. Since a body that is all buoyancy has a tendency to overturn, 
another factor is needed to provide stability. This factor is imparted 
by that portion of the ship which is between wind and water, i.e., 
the part that is out of water on one side when the ship rolls to the 
other, and under the water on the side towards which she is rolling. 
As the ship rolls, these parts on each side — called shoulders — are con- 
stantly changing position in and out of the water. As the water exerts 
its upward pressure against the descending shoulder, the ship rights, 
rolls, rights, and rolls again, but, if the shoulders are large enough, 
she does not turn over. 

To give a ship the necessary stability, her height out of water must 
be properly calculated, and it is the problem of the naval architect 
to make this height great enough to counteract bottom buoyancy — 
or the "upsetting" part of the ship — but small enough to reduce top- 
heaviness to the slightest degree. 

A merchant ship may safely careen as much as 14 in and 14 
out of the water, bringing as much as an eighth of her beam under 
water. If more stability is required than the naval architect has given 
her, however, it can be secured by the lading of heavy weights under 
water, or, in extreme cases, by putting ballast low down in the ship 
to help keep the underwater body down, and to enable the ship to 


carry her topweights (sails, spars, etc.) without heeling or upsetting. 

A cran\, or topheavy, ship is one that rolls drunkenly even in calm 
water. She is better, however, than a stiff ship, which rolls very little, 
has difficulty righting herself when she does roll, and is always in 
danger of having her masts jerked out in a heavy sea. 
Effect of Bow and Stern on Stability. If the two ends of a ship are 
made very fine in proportion to the middle body, they contribute 
nothing to the stability of the ship, and the work of buoying up the 
entire structure with its weights is thrown entirely upon the middle 
body. If a ship has a hollow bow, any increase of stability, over that 
given to the middle section, should be looked for in the stern. In this 
part, it is preferable near the surface of the water, so that whatever 
fine lines the stern may have are retained under the water. A roomy 
stern and a fine bow are both advantageous, but fineness of run near 
the surface of the water not only contributes nothing to speed, but 
detracts from the power and cargo-carrying capacity of the ship. Fine- 
ness of stern is, however, of steering value to a vessel constructed on 
the "cod's head and mackerel tail" principle, but, in that case, the 
increased roominess and buoyancy is to be found in the bow. (See the 
chapter devoted to the Rainbow.) 

When the middle body of a vessel is too fine in proportion to her 
ends, the center may curve upward because of the excess pressure of 
water under it, and the ends drop. Such a ship is said to hog. She sags 
when the ends are too fine for the middle. 

How a Ship is Made Dry and Easy. Although a bow which offers 
the least resistance to passage through the water makes for greater 
speed, it stands to reason that the finer such a bow is at the waterline, 
the greater will be the difficulty of the forward part in rising out of 
the water; and it also stands to reason that the fewer the weights 
placed in the forepart the greater will be the buoyancy imparted to 
that section. Correct trimming will accomplish the latter, and any 
tendency on the part of the bow to plunge, because of its fineness, will 
be materially lessened if the top of the bow flares outward — always 
provided that solid water is not taken aboard, in which case such bows 

M6Mt.Jl..auuuujJimijuu at 


are dangerous. The McKay ships are examples of the flare bow suc- 
cessfully adapted. 

Weatherliness. Weatherliness in a ship means the ability to go head- 
way across the wind and against the wind. The opposite is leewardli- 
ness. A leewardly ship is one which has an inclination to be blown 
broadside in the direction towards which the wind is blowing, instead 
of traveling lengthwise through the sea, even when the seaman has 
laid her head in the proper direction and has trimmed her sails to the 
proper angle. 

Weatherliness, then, is most desirable in a ship, and, in order to 
make her weatherly it is the duty of the naval architect to give her as 
much of the antidote to leewardliness as is possible — the antidote 
being a large longitudinal section or, in other words, excess length 
beyond breadth, while he preserves, at the same time, her average 
depth below the water. Since a "round" ship is most leewardly, a 
sharp ship — from five to six times as long as she is broad — with pro- 
portionate depth, is most weatherly. In instances where the natural 
draft of a ship is insufficient for purposes of weatherliness, deadwood 
is sometimes added (i) in the shape of a false keel, (2) to the stern 
and cutwater, and (3) in the run before the rudder. However, any 
excess of deadwood — while permissible in a yacht, an opium clipper, 
or a racing vessel — is not altogether desirable in a cargo-carrier, except 
where deadwood must be used as a last measure to attain weather- 

The following is a comparison between the weatherly qualities of 
two types of ships, each with the sails set at an angle of 45 ° and the 
wind abeam. No. 1 is a full-built ship with the cross section to the 
longitudinal section as 1 is to 6. No. 2 is a sharper ship with the cross 
section to the longitudinal section as 1 is to 8. Thirty-six square feet 
of sail area is allowed for each square foot of cross section, and the 
effective force of the wind per square foot of sail is, in this instance, 
.2 lbs. leeward and .2 lbs. ahead. 

No. 1 vessel: Drifting force to leeward per foot of longitudinal section 
— 1.2 lbs. 


No. 2 vessel: Drifting force to leeward per foot of longitudinal section 
— 0.9 lbs. 

No. 1 vessel: Driving force ahead per foot of cross section — 7.2 lbs. 
No. 2 vessel: Driving force ahead per foot of cross section — 9.6 lbs. 

No. 1 vessel: Drift to leeward — 0.8 miles. Speed ahead — 4.5 miles 
No. 2 vessel: Drift to leeward — 0.6 miles. Speed ahead — 6.0 miles 

As the force of the wind is increased, the drifting and the driving 
forces increase in exact ratio, but the drift to leeward and the speed 
ahead decrease slightly in proportion. 

How a Ship is Made Handy and Easy to Steer. Handiness and ease 
in steering depend upon four necessary attributes: (1) balance of sail, 
(2) balance of body, (3) balance of sail with body, and (4) propor- 
tion of rudder. 

Granting that both ship and sail are correctly trimmed (which is 
the seaman's duty), and that good balance is maintained, so that the 
master, and not the wind, determines the direction in which the ship 
is driven, a further aid — or detriment — to control is to be found in 
the type and proportion of the rudder, as well as in the cutwater, fore- 
foot, and heel of the vessel. 

There is some difference of opinion regarding the best shape to give 
the rudder, but the one which seems to approach more nearly to the 
ideal is that which has its greatest breadth near its center and is 
rounded off at the top and heel. Power is given to the rudder by 
scaling its breadth to the length of the ship, in something approximat- 
ing the following proportions ; for every 100 feet of the ship's length 
allow 2 feet of breadth plus 1 foot for the rudder. A ship 100 feet in 
length would therefore have a rudder 3 feet in breadth; a ship 200 
feet in length would have a rudder 5 feet in breadth, and so on. 
Diminished cutwater and rounded-off forefoot and heel help ma- 
terially in making a ship handy to turn, since much forefoot and heel, 
especially, cause resistance when turning, as they tend to grip the 
water. The Cutty Sar\ is an example of the exception to this rule. 


Balance of Body and Balance of Sail. When a ship shows a tendency 
to fall off from the wind (leewardliness) and must carry a lee or 
slack helm, or to fly into the wind (ardency) and must carry a 
weather helm, such defects must be looked for in lack of balance 
between body and sail. In such case the commander may remedy the 
trouble in his own vessel by shifting weights forward and aft until he 
finds the trim which will enable him to carry the proper sail, and he 
may also study carefully the quantity of sail to adjust in various de- 
grees of wind, so as to measure his balance. 

When ship and sail balance one another, it denotes that the center 
of effort (sail) and the center of lateral resistance (body) meet exactly 
in the same point along the length of the ship. If the ship is ardent, 
the commander may alter her trim so that she need carry but little 
weather helm, but in cases of severe lack of balance the remedies re- 
sorted to would be: raking the masts either a little forward or aft, 
adding deadwood forward or abaft, adding a tapering false keel, 
or changing the position of the masts altogether. Any ship is improved 
in speed as her balance is improved, and a skillful commander can 
often make a ship fast by trim alone. This was probably the secret of 
men like Robert Waterman. 

Taking the center of the length of a ship as the balance point, the 
following are the rules for trim: 

i. The center of balance shifts to the stern when the vessel is 
trimmed by the stern: i" of trim to i of draft shifts the center of bal- 
ance aft by -Vi44th part of the ship's length. 

2. Raking the sternpost shifts the center of balance forward % 
of the rake. 

3. Rounding the stem shifts the center of balance aft by about 
^oth of the draft at the stem. 

4. The center of balance will shift forward, in a ship with a full 
bow and waterline, the moment she has speed. To correct this she is 
either trimmed by the stern or made to carry more sail forward. 

5. Trimming a vessel by the stern will shift the center of resistance 
of the body of the ship aft; trimming her by the head will shift it 

— -■'- ---=j- — ■- - - 


Proportion and Distribution of Sail. It has been estimated that a fast 
ship can carry 36 feet of sail for each square foot of area of midship 
section in a ten-knot breeze, but that more than this has a tendency 
to detract from, rather than add to, speed; since the ship, in all prob- 
ability, would go slower from being pressed over too far. In light 
winds, however, fast ships are capable of carrying a great quantity of 
light sail — far beyond their proportion of working sail, and in side 
winds a ship should be sufficiendy weatherly to carry sail that is not 
less than six times the area of the vessel's immersed longitudinal 

A vessel with one sail is considered to be the most effective sailer 
of any, but, owing to the need of making sail easy to handle, such 
sail is necessarily divided into a greater number of units as the size 
of the vessel increases. Hall says, in his Report, that "a great many 
improved appliances were invented for use on the clipper ships, 
among them the idea of double topsails. Captain R. B. Forbes, of 
Boston, was the first to divide the enormously large and high old- 
fashioned topsail and make the lower topsail yard stationary at the 
cap of the lower mast-head. He made the mast-heads long, to suit 
the rig. The upper topsail yard kept the place occupied by the original 
yard, and was raised and lowered in the same manner. This idea was 
not original with Captain Forbes, for he saw topsail schooners as long 
ago as 1 8 19 with topsails hoisted on the head of the lower mast and 
a square sail above on a pole mast; but he was the first to revive the 
old idea and apply it, in 1841, first to schooners and afterwards to 
ships, to obviate the extreme size to which topsails had grown. Captain 
Forbes also invented the idea of topmasts fidded abaft the lower mast- 
head, in order to house them without interfering with the lower yards. 
This idea did not become popular, but double topsails did after 1850, 
and are now a common rig throughout the world." 
Placing of Masts. The positions of the various masts can be seen, 
usually, on the naval architect's plan. There seems to have been no 
general rule for placing the masts in a clipper, but ordinarily, if the 
load waterline were divided into ten equal parts, the foremast would 


be placed slightly abaft two of these parts (measured from the bow), 
the mainmast (usually stepped abaft the center of the ship) would 
be three parts abaft the foremast, and the mizzenmast would be 
stepped slightly more abaft the mainmast than the foremast was 
stepped from the bow. 

Robert Kipping, in his Treatise on Masting and Rigging, says, re- 
garding raking the masts, that "when a sharp-bowed vessel has her 
masts to rake, it frequently eases her in pitching, but never adds to her 
sailing, the wind having less power on her sails ; it is, however, neces- 
sary that a ship's main and mizzen-masts should rake more than the 
fore-mast; for, by separating them in this way, the wind acts with 
more power on all the sails, when close-hauled, which otherwise 
would not be effected, and be of little or no advantage to the ship." 

There seems, also, to have been no general rule for the size of the 
masts or yards, but, in instances where the mainmast is given, the fol- 
lowing proportions appear to have been used: 

Main topmast: .567 times the length of the mainmast. 

Main topgallant mast: .31 to .32 times the length of the mainmast. 

Main royal mast: Frequently exactly .206 times the length of the 

mainmast; otherwise .19 to .21 times the length of the mainmast. 
Main skysail mast: Frequently exactly .16 times the length of the 

mainmast; otherwise, but rarely, ranging from .14 to .19 times 

the length of the mainmast. 
Foremast: .93 (average) to .96 (heavily sparred) times the length 

of the mainmast. 
Foretopmast: Usually .93 times the length of the main topmast. 
Fore topgallant mast: .92 to .93 times the length of the main top- 
gallant mast. In many instances the fore topgallant mast and the 

main topgallant mast were the same length. 
Fore royal mast: .84 to .93 times the length of the main royal mast. 

In a few extremes this measurement was as low as .6*7 times the 

length of the main royal mast. 
Fore skysail mast: .85 to .91 times the length of the main skysail 

mast. Many clipper ships did not carry skysails on the foremast. 
Mizzen mast: .82 to .88 times the length of the mainmast. 


Mizzen topmast: .78 to .82 times the length of the main topmast. 
Mizzen topgallant mast: Generally .jj to .79 times the length of the 

main topgallant mast. 
Mizzen royal mast: .80 to .83 times the length of the main royal 

Mizzen sky sail mast: .73 (frequently) to .80 times the length of the 

main skysail mast. 

When the heights of the masts have been determined, the size of 
the yards can be judged, approximately, by referring to the table in 
Appendix II, where the mast and spar dimensions of a number of 
principal clippers are given. 

The following dimensions appear to have been used for: 

Diameter of Masts: 

Main and fore masts: 1" to i%" to every 3' in length. 

Mizzen mast : % to % times the diameter of the mainmast. 

Main and fore topmasts: 1" to 1%" to every 3' in length. 

Mizzen topmast: V10 to % times the diameter of the main topmast. 

Topgallant masts: 1" to i%" to every 3' in length. 

Royal masts : % to % times the diameter of the topgallant masts. 

Skysail masts: V2" to %" to every 1' in length. 

Bowsprit: .81 to .95 times the diameter of the mainmast. 
Diameter of Yards: 

Main and fore yards, at the slings or middle: l / 2 " to every 3' in 

Topsail yards: %" to %" to every 3' in length. 

Topgallant yards: G /io" to %" to every 3' in length. 

Royal yards: Approximately 73 the diameter of their topsail yards. 

Skysail yards: M>" to /4" to every 1 in length. 

Studdingsail yards: 1" to every 5' in length. 
Diameter of Booms: 

Studdingsail booms: 1" to every 5' in length. 

Spanker or driver boom: Slightly less than the foretopsail yard. 

Gaff: Slightly less than the boom. 


Models: Their Use and Origin 

Although the ship model is as old as the record of the ship itself — 
the oldest in existence probably being the Badarian one unearthed at 
Fayoum and assigned to a period ten thousand years before the birth 
of Christ — it seems that it was in America that the model was first 
adapted to the purposes of shipbuilding. Model-making in England, 
from the point of view of the collector, reached its prime in the eight- 
eenth century, but some very fine ones also resulted, from the order, 
published by the Admiralty in 1649, for models showing the designs 
of ordered men-of-war; and the famous Cuckfield Park Collection is 
said to have been started by Samuel Pepys at the turn of the seven- 
teenth century. 

European models were, however, of a skeleton type — almost minia- 
ture ships, in fact — and are not to be confused with the more practical 
American waterline, or "lift," model, which was the result of discov- 
ery made by accident in 1790, when a solid block — from which ordi- 
nary American ship-building models were then cut — was pieced longi- 
tudinally for the purpose of giving an intended model the required 
depth. The model of the ketch Eliza — now preserved in the Peabody 
Museum, Salem — is the earliest known lift model in existence. The 
fast-sailing Eliza herself was built by Enos Briggs of Salem, and was 
launched in June of 1794 or 1795. Orlando Merrill, who probably per- 
fected the waterline model — the parts of which are doweled together 
so that it may be taken apart and the sheer, body, and half-breadth 
plans transferred to paper — is generally credited with having invented 
it, although the lift model for his sloop-of-war Wasp seems to postdate 
that of the Eliza. 

Aside from serving as a guide, in days when shipbuilders and de- 
signers trusted to the eye alone when designing a vessel, the model has 
been usefully employed for the purpose of computing the center of 
gravity and displacement of a large vessel, and for various experimen- 
tation. Models were used for the latter purpose extensively after the 


introduction of mechanical means for propelling the ship, or the minia- 
ture of it. 

Contemporary clipper-ship models are very rarely reliable indicators 
of the design of the ships they are supposed to represent, since many 
artful dodges were resorted to, by the builders, for the purpose of con- 
fusing rival builders, and the lines of the ship nearly always under- 
went marked changes from those of the model when they were finally 
laid down on the mould-loft floor. 






1 > 

3 a o 13 

Taking Off the Lines Of a Model 

The drawing illustrates the method used for taking off one section 
of a model. Two flat rulers, marked off in numeral inches, are used: 
one is placed dead against the keel and the other is arranged perpen- 
dicular to the first. It is necessary that they form a perfect angle, and 
are so tested by means of a spirit-level and a square. The distances from 
the sides of the. ship to the ruler are taken at every inch or two inches 
along the ruler, horizontally and perpendicularly, and the various 
points are recorded on squared paper. (The same method is used for 
taking off the lines of a ship in drydock, except that a scale of feet 
is then used.) 

The same routine is followed for taking off all sections. 


The Art of Shipbuilding 

Selection of Timber. This was the initial duty, and perhaps one of the 
most important of all the duties, of the builder of wooden ships, since 
the quality of his work and the life, apart from accidents, of the ships 
themselves depended mainly upon the materials from which they were 
constructed. It was necessary that timbers selected for shipbuilding be 
free from blemishes and wounds, from cracks, compression of fibers, 
and all hollow, foxy, or druxy places, such as indicate the commence- 
ment of decay. The builder needed to show great skill in differentiating 
between the good and the bad qualities of timber and in making his 

Since it is the sap which tends to decompose and decay timber, the 
best period for felling trees is at their age of maturity, when the pro- 
portion of sap-wood is less and the heart-wood is more strong and last- 
ing. The period for oak is from 60 to 200 years ; of ash, elm, and larch, 
from 50 to 100 years; and of fir, from 70 to 100 years. 

Among the superior timbers (classed as twelve years) for shipbuild- 
ing, are the following: 

1. Teak. As strong as oak but more buoyant. Oily. Not injurious to 
iron. Ships built of Malabar teak have been known to endure for 
from 80 to 100 years. 

2. Live-oak. Widely used in America. 

3. English oak (usually preferred to all other oaks), African oak, 
and the oaks of Continental Europe. 

Lloyd's description of first-class ships for the period designates Eng- 
lish, African or live-oak, or teak, for the whole of the timbering; Eng- 
lish or African oak, East Indian teak, or red cedar, for the outside plank 
above the light-watermark; white oak, elm, or beech below the light- 
water-mark (not wrought higher than the first futtock heads) ; Eng- 
lish or African oak, or teak, for clamps, spirketings, shelf -pieces, and 
ceiling; and treenails of English or African oak or locust, but spe- 
cifically not of Baltic or American oak. 


Timbers in the second class, with a ten-year rating, include mahog- 
any, ash, and Cuba sabicu. 

Timbers in the third class, widely used in America, include white 
oak, spruce pine, hackmatack (red American larch or tamarack), 
sweet chestnut, elm, yellow pine, and many others. Fir is also included 
in this class. 

Hall says, regarding the timber used for the building of American 
ships around the period of the clipper ships: "Changes also took place 
in the kinds of timber used for building ships, as about 1835 the supply 
of oak timber began to grow scant in New England. Two hundred 
years of occupation and settlement, with the pursuit of ship-building 
and other industries, having nearly cleared the primitive forests from 
such parts of the country as were accessible from water-courses, south- 
ern timber was now finding its way plentifully to the northern markets, 
and between 1830 and 1840 was introduced to the ship-yards. The 
peninsulas of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia were overgrown with 
splendid forests of towering white oak, and the getting out of the tim- 
ber for the frames of vessels in that region soon became a regular indus- 
try. A complete set of patterns, or moulds as they are called, having been 
made for the timbers of the vessel, they were turned over to contractors, 
who went into the woods in the winter time with a party of men armed 
with axes. The party encamped in rough board or log huts, and re- 
mained until the trees had been felled and the complete frame of the 
ship hewn from them. Each piece was then marked, and the whole was 
hauled to the nearest water-course before the snow disappeared in the 
spring and put aboard a coasting schooner and sent north. This industry 
of getting out frames on these peninsulas is still a marked feature of 
shipbuilding as now pursued on the north Atlantic coast, nearly all the 
frames of the large New England ships being now obtained from the 
region named. 

"Southern pitch-pine timber was also introduced, the sticks of which 
could be obtained of such great lengths that they strengthened the ship. 
This timber was first used for beams and decking and the various longi- 
tudinal ties, such as water-ways, clamps, keelsons, etc. ; but as soon as 


the insurance companies were induced to approve of pitch-pine its use 
also became general for the ceiling and planking of ships, its great 
length making it desirable for both purposes. Pitch-pine remains the 
favorite wood for all the parts of a vessel of over ioo tons except the 
stem, keel, stern-post, and frames, for which oak, hard wood, and 
hackmatack are preferred. For the masts and spars preference is given 
to white pine and spruce, but a great many lower masts are made of 
strips of oak or maple and yellow pine, doweled, bolted, and hooped 
over with iron. Topmasts and bowsprits are frequently made of pitch- 
pine sticks. 

"There was a difference in the cost of ships in this period in favor 
of American owners. In 1825 a 300-ton ship cost from $75 to $80 per 
ton in the United States, from $90 to $100 per ton in Canada, and from 
$100 to $110 per ton in England. In 1847 a large ship, first class in 
every respect, cost from $75 to $80 per ton here, against $87 to $90 in 

American clippers, like the Stag Hound, had their keels of rock 
maple and white oak, copper-bolted; top timbers of hackmatack; 
frame and bulwark stanchions of white oak, between-deck stanchions 
of oak; and deck plankings of white pine; and some, like the Flying 
Cloud, sold for less than $51 per registered ton. 

The usual procedure, after the timbers were felled, was to square 
them, by sawing off four slabs from each log, in order to give air access 
to the wood; and afterwards they were seasoned, naturally, as far as 
possible, within the limited time allowed before using them. Natural 
seasoning consisted in steeping the timbers in water to remove the sap, 
and exposing them to air in a dry place, during which time they would 
lose from 6 to 40% of their weight and shrink from 2 to 8%. Dry rot 
was guarded against by saturating the timber with solutions of metallic 
salts and copperas, corrosive sublimate, or chloride of zinc. Donald 
McKay seasoned his ships by filling tunnels in the keelson with salt 
pickle (a method invented by Captain R. B. Forbes), but on the whole 
American shipbuilders were more careless about seasoning the timbers 
for their ships than were the English. 



Laying Down. After the pieces of timber for a particular ship were 
selected and collected in the shipyard, the lines of the architect's plans, 
the building draught or calculation draught, or of the waterline model, 
were transferred (scaling them to the exact size of the ship) to the 
mould-loft floor. Permanent lines were marked on the floor with a 
scriber, and temporary ones with chalk. Moulds, or patterns (which 
were, in actuality, skeleton frameworks made of battens, or narrow 
strips of wood, with just enough stiffness to preserve the correct out- 
lines), were then made from the lines laid down on the floor. 

In addition, it was necessary for the builder to make an exact outline, 
on the floor, of the planking, or s\in, of the ship, showing the lines 
of the planks (these lines were called ribband lines) and the way in 
which the planks would lie most easily over the underneath frame- 
work, and keep most firmly in place. The bevelings or angles of the 
timbers were also marked on flat boards to serve as guides. These were 
called beveling boards. 

After the moulds were completed, the process of conversion 

Conversion. This consisted in cutting the logs of timber into pieces 
nearly of the shape required for building. Long, straight logs were 
selected for keels, keelsons, etc.; short, straight logs for beams, stern- 
posts, etc.; curved pieces for stems, futtocks, transoms, etc.; crooked 
pieces for hooks and knees; and small pieces for chocks, carlings, etc. 
The idea in selection was to waste as little timber as .possible. When 
crooked pieces were scarce, other pieces were softened by steaming, and 
bent artificially. 

Nearly all the work of conversion was done with a saw. Hall speaks 
of the changes, especially in this part of the work of building ships, 
that went on in the yards of the clipper-builders: "The construction of 
great ships led to some changes in the manner in which mechanical 
labor was performed at the shipyard. The old fashion was for the ship- 
carpenter to be a man of all trades. He would aid in hewing out the 
frames and setting them up ; would line out his streak of planking on 
the timbers of the ship, dub off the surface of the frames so that the 


plank might fit truly, put on the plank, bore the holes for the treenails 
and bolts, fasten the plank, and perhaps even calk the seam; but when 
business became active this plan would not do, and the work was di- 
vided, the separate parts being allotted to different gangs of men, and 
carpentry, calking, fastening, joining, painting, etc., all became different 
trades — a system under which time was saved and better work secured. 
Various devices were introduced to save labor. Previously all the frame 
timbers were hewed out of the rough log or the flitch plank with broad- 
axes in the hands of the men, and timbers that needed to be cut length- 
wise were sawed through by two men by hand; but Donald McKay 
set up in his yard in East Boston a steam saw-mill to perform both of 
these operations. The saw was hung in such manner that it could be 
tilted first one way and then another while in motion, and thus all the 
frames could be sawed out to the proper bevel by three men as fast as 
twelve men could put them together and set them up. All the heavy 
sawing being done by steam, the work of the yard was immensely 
facilitated, and a frame could be got out and put together in less than 
one-third the time it formerly took. Another improvement was effected 
by setting up a derrick in the yard to lift the heavy timbers and beams 
to their places in the ship. That work had previously been done en- 
tirely by manual labor, and in building a vessel the master carpenter 
always required a force large enough at any rate to pick up a large 
keelson piece or a beam and carry it on their shoulders to its home on 
the vessel. The heavy ceiling and planking had to be carried from the 
steam-box to the vessel in the same way. There was an immense loss of 
time in this clumsy and laborious way of doing business, as all hands 
had to be called off from the work from time to time, often as much 
as once an hour, to spend twenty minutes or more in carrying about a 
huge plank or stick of timber. To change this teams of oxen and horses 
were brought to drag the pieces about and large derricks were set up, 
worked by other teams, to lift them to their place. Various other de- 
vices were adopted from time to time by smart builders. Treenails * 

* "Treenails" were just what the name implies: wooden nails, or pegs. They were 
made of oak, teak, or locust. Before they were used they were softened by steaming, 

m -■ mil i) in' -i f - - - ■- — 


were formerly made by hand in the shed on rainy days, and were 
chopped out of sticks of wood with axes; but a treenail lathe machine 
was invented to do this work. A machine worked by a hand lever was 
also invented to cut the long, round bars of iron into suitable lengths 
for bolts. These bolts had previously been cut by hand with a hammer 
and cold-chisel. The auger was also improved; and the saving of 
labor by these various improvements was worth thousands of dollars 
to the builder of a large vessel, and aided greatly to cheapen the cost of 
a ship. These improvements were adopted chiefly in the cities of Balti- 
more, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, the country towns still 
adhering to the old-fashioned way of doing things. It was long before 
Bath, Maine, bought even a bevel saw, and the first that went there 
was the one previously used by Donald McKay, which was sold after 
he had built his last ship in 1869. To this day [1882] the bevel saw, 
derrick, and bolt-cutter are unknown in the majority of ship-yards of 
the Atlantic coast outside of the five cities named." 

After the timbers for a particular ship had been properly sorted they 
were then formed and trimmed by: 1, siding them (giving them their 
correct breadths), 2, moulding them (giving them their correct out- 
lines according to the moulds sent down from the mould-loft) ; and 3, 
beveling them, when required. This completed the process of conver- 

Laying the Keel. The Stem and Sternpost. The keel, generally com- 
posed of rock maple and white oak in America, of elm in England, and 
frequently consisting of as many as ten separate pieces of timber, was 
always the first part of the ship to be laid. It was placed on a row of 
temporary building blocks — each of these also composed of separate 
pieces of timber, one above the other, arranged for ease in removing 
before the launch — laid lengthwise on a sloping piece of ground, 
called a slip, by the water's edge. Generally a false keel was also laid 
below the true keel, partly to increase the weatherliness of the ship and 

forced in at the larger, and out of the smaller, end of a tapering tube, in order to 
reduce them to about two-thirds their original diameter. When moistened they would 
swell up again and fit tightly. 


partly to give her a firmer hold on the water. The false keel was always 
fastened in such a way that it could be easily knocked off without 
damaging the keel, in case the vessel ran aground. 

The stem, usually of the same material as the keel, with two other 
inside pieces similarly shaped, called the apron and the stemson — used 
for backing and strengthening the stem — were then treenailed and 
doweled together, and secured very carefully and accurately to the keel 
by a "knee." Then the sternpost, usually of oak, and backed by an inner 
post, was mortised into the keel. The stem itself was usually composed 
of three vertical pieces scarfed together, one atop the other; the whole 
mass increased in size as it went upward to give a good bed for the bow- 
sprit to rest on. Deadwood was fixed into the space between the bottom 
of the apron and stemson, and also at the stern, to fill up the spaces, 
between the timbers and planking of the ship, too limited for fram- 

The Frames or Ribs of the Ship. The frames, which are the parts of 
the ship shown by the curved lines on the body plan, were generally 
assembled on the ground and then lifted into place along the keel. The 
keel was practically the backbone of the ship, the frames being the 
ribs; and in this manner the frames, placed on their station lines on 
the keel, should be visualized. 

Each frame was built of two layers of pieces of timber, side by side, 
and breaking joint with each other, so that each joint would be oppo- 
site the middle of its corresponding timber in the other layer. The 
names of these pieces of timber are: floors or floor timbers, cross tim- 
bers, half -floors, first futtoc\s, second, third, fourth and fifth futtoc\s, 
lengthening pieces, and long and short top timbers. If the frames were 
not assembled on the ground, the long and short armed floors were 
let into the keel at right angles, and, to those timbers, the curved ones 
called futtocks and the long and short top timbers were attached one 
above the other in the shape of one huge rib. Because of the fine angle 
that would necessarily result if the frames nearest the bow and stern 
were set square to the line of the keel, these sets of timbers were canted, 



or turned around partially, so that their outside faces would corre- 
spond with the desired outline at those parts. 

The \eelson, a stout timber running the full length of the ship from 
stem to stern, was next laid down parallel to the keel and above it. Its 
purpose, as a sort of internal keel, was to strengthen the outside of the 
ship and to hold down the floor timbers. The keelson was, to the 
stemson and inner sternpost, what the keel was to the stem and stern- 
post. Other timbers, called side or sister keelsons, were worked abreast 
the mainmast and about six feet from the middle line of the ship, in 
order to strengthen the vessel in the vicinity of the mainmast. The step 
to receive the mainmast rested, in part, on these keelsons. 

Following this work, the spaces, between the ribs below the water- 
line, were filled with timber, to form a solid shell, and were caulked 
watertight. The entire frame was trussed or braced with iron and was 
then ready for the interior planking, or ceiling, which started from 
the keelson and extended up the sides. The deck beams were fastened, 
with strong wooden or iron knees, on projecting pieces called shelves, 
and strengthened by posts which rose from the keelson. Close to the 
keelson a gutter was left, accessible to the pumps, to catch any leakage 
of water. Breast hoo\s of wood or iron, fitting the shape of the bow, 
and crutches at the stern were further added to strengthen the frame, 
and to unite the two sides. 

The Planning or Skjn of the Ship. The planking, both external and 
internal, was of various thicknesses. A range of planking, the parts 
of which abutted against each other, was called a stra\e and generally 
extended the whole length of the ship. A thick strake, or a combination 
of strakes, was generally worked wherever it was supposed that the 
frames required additional support. The lowest strake, the edge of 
which fitted into the rabbet (or groove) of the keel, was called the 
garboard stra\e. The principal strakes of thic\stufl (timber four to 
twelve inches thick) wrought on the outside of the ship, under the main 
breadth, were called wales; and the upper strakes of planks were called 
sheer stra\es. Treenail fastenings (these eventually went out of fash- 
ion) were usually used for attaching the planking to the timbers of the 


frame. The inner and outer plankings of the ship were fastened per- 
manently at one and the same time, in one operation. 
Dec\s. The decks, usually of yellow pine, were framed to leave hatch- 
and ladderways, mast holes, etc., and were laid with care to insure their 
being watertight. 

In a three-decked merchant ship the lowest was called the lower 
dec\; the next above, the middle dec\; then the main dec\; and finally 
the spar or upper dec\. Detached buildings on the spar deck were 
called dec\ houses. 

In a two-decked ship there were: lower deck, main deck, and spar 

The orlop dec\, below the lower deck, was but partially planked; 
sometimes orlop beams only were used, to add strength. 

Decks were made slightly convex, or rounded up, for the sake of 

Framing the Dec\s. This included providing the following: 

1. Coamings for the mast holes, ladderways and hatchways. Coam- 
ings were raised borders which prevented water from flowing 
down into the ship from the deck. Hatchways and ladderways 
gave access to the decks below. 

2. Companions or booby-hatches (coverings) for the ladderways. 

3. Hawse-holes for the cables. Hawse-holes were lined with cast- 
iron hawse-pipe and equipped with bucklers which helped to 
prevent water from working into the ship. 

4. Scuppers, lined with lead, mixed metal, or galvanized iron. Scup- 
pers were holes which allowed water to escape from the deck 
to the sea. 

5. A manger-board, or plank, abaft the hawse-holes on the working 
deck to prevent water from the hawse-holes from flooding the 
deck. Manger scuppers to discharge the water collected by the 
manger-board were also provided. 

6. Scuttles, or openings closed by heavy glass in metal frames, to 
provide light and air for the decks below. 


7. Channels (originally chain-wales), or flat ledges of wood or iron 
projecting outward from the ship's side, to spread the rigging. 
The average length of each channel, fore and aft, was about one- 
half that of its corresponding lower mast from spar deck to cap. 

The merchant ships sometimes had bulwarks (or a boarding run- 
ning around the side of the ship like a built-up rail) topped by a flat 
piece (hand-rail) called the gunwale, with railings at the forecasde 
and poop. A railing, or balustrade, athwartships at the break of the 
poop or forecastle was called a breast-wor\. The upper edge of a ship's 
stern, usually ornamented with carved work, was called the taffrail. 
This word was a corruption of the Dutch word tafferel meaning "pic- 
ture" — a relic of the days when the stern of the ship was ornamented 
with an elaborate decoration. 

General Fittings of the Hull. These included: 

1. Rudder. Usually made of oak or elm, sheathed with copper. It 
consisted of an assemblage of up-and-down pieces, coaked and 
bolted together. The upper part of the main piece, called the 
rudder head, was cylindrical in shape; it passed into the interior 
of the ship through the rudder port, or hole, in the counter. (The 
counter is the name given to that part of the ship which over- 
hangs the sternpost.) The rudder was hung into the gudgeons 
of the sternpost by means of pintles, or hooks, in the foremost 
piece; the principle, since the rudder swung back and forth on 
the pintles, being practically the same as the fitting together of 
any two parts of a hinge. The rudder was shipped before or after 
launching. A sole piece, corresponding to the false keel of the 
ship, was usually fitted to the heel of the rudder. 

2. Wheel, Wheel Ropes, Tiller. The rudder head passed into the 
interior of the ship, and was mortised to receive the tiller, the 
ropes of which ran through blocks to the barrel of the wheel; 
the wheel, when turned, tautened one rope as it slackened the 
other, and thus, by way of the tiller, controlled the rudder. From 


2. l / 2 to 4V2 turns of the wheel were required to put the helm hard 
over either way. 

3. Anchor Fittings and Capstan. Anchors, when not in use, were 
projected clear of the bows of the ship (until taken inboard) by 
catheads, which in turn were supported on knees. There was a 
cathead on each side of the bow. 

The capstan was a mechanical arrangement. It was usually double 
to enable two sets of hands to work it at once, and was used for 
tightening sheets, lines, and braces, and for heavy types of haul- 
ing. A rope, passed around the middle of the capstan, was coiled 
when the capstan was rotated by means of bars — usually twelve 
in number — inserted into holes in the capstan's rim. 

The windlass was a capstan with the barrel worked horizon- 

4. Pumps. These, when used for discharging water from the ship's 
hold, stood in compartments called pump wells, extending from 
the ship's bottom to as high as the upper deck. The water was 
discharged into the sea through pump dales. 

5. Ventilators. Made of metal with bell-mouthed hoods, some with 
rotary tops. Fresh air was drawn into the lower decks through the 
ventilators, and foul air passed out through a tube on the opposite 
side of the deck. 

6. Boats. These were generally built of oak with cedar or pine plank- 
ing. There were three types used: (1) These were carvel-built 
with frames that generally consisted of a floor and two futtocks. 
The floors were scored down over the keel, and bolted to it. The 
frames were sided, moulded, and trimmed, as in a ship. Plank- 
ing was laid on fore and aft, with the seams flush. (2) These 
were clinker-built. They were very light in weight for their size, 
and the planking was not laid with the seams flush, but with each 
strake overlapping the upper edge of the strake below. They were 
not built on frames, but on temporary transverse moulds. (3) 
These were diagonally built, with the skin of two layers of 


planking and the seams flush. They were built, like the clinker- 
built boats, on temporary transverse moulds. 
Caulking. The caulking on a wooden ship was first performed 
upon the treenails, then on the planking. 
The seams of the planking were opened about Mso of the thickness 
of the plank, and threads of oakum (junk picked to pieces) were 
forced in by means of a caulking iron. This was an iron wedge driven 
by a beetle, or mallet. White oakum was usually forced into the seams 
first, and then black oakum was forced in. The oakum was further 
compressed into the seams by means of a horsing iron, the process being 
called horsing up. The seams were then payed with melted pitch, or a 
solution of caoutchouc, shellac, and naphtha. 

Coppering. The bottom of the ship was first payed over with pitch or 
tar, then sheathed with copper and fastened with mixed metal nails. 
The copper sheets were put on in strakes running fore-and-aft, the 
after end of one strake overlapping the fore edge of the other, and the 
lower edge of one overlapping the top of the one below. Coppering was 
sometimes done after launching. 

Painting. The sides above the copper generally received from three to 
four coats of paint. The clippers were painted black, sometimes with 
a ribbon of white, crimson, or gold about the waist. Decks and ladders 
were scrubbed and holystoned. 
Launching. This was the legal delivery of the ship to her owner. 

34 6 


C B< 

E Bitt 
F Con Pa i 

6 Skylight 

H Cabin Dscr Houit 
X niiitN nosr 


u Cargo winch 

V B0AT6 
W6«u£v FuhnCL 

FF BowsPft.r 

The deck arrangements of some of the clippers differed in detail 
from the above plan (the Lightning, for instance, carried her boats 
inboard on the poop deck) but the arrangement of essentials was prac- 
tically the same for all ships. 

The deck was divided into three parts: the poop dec\ (K) from 
which small ladders, about three feet high (M) led downward to the 
main dec\, and upward to the forecastle dec\ (EE). 

A and B, on the poop deck, indicate the steering apparatus: the 
wheel, generally of mahogany strongly framed and bound with brass ; 
and the wheel box, enclosing a wooden drum around which the ropes 
leading to the tiller were coiled. The binnacle (C) was a small box for 
the compass. It was one of the duties of the helmsman, at the wheel, to 
strike a small bell atop the binnacle to mark each half-hour of the day 
and night. These strokes were in turn answered by the lookout man, 
who struck the great forward bell, at Z. Starting with one bell for 
twelve-thirty o'clock, two bells for one o'clock, three bells for one- 
thirty o'clock, and four bells for two o'clock, the bells signaled the hours 
until eight were struck and the watch was changed. Another watch 
then went on duty, and the procedure was repeated. The day aboard 
ship commenced at noon and was divided into the following watches, 
or spaces of time: Afternoon Watch, noon to 4 p.m. ; First Dog Watch, 
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. ; Second Dog Watch, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. ; First Watch, 8 
p.m to midnight; Middle Watch, 12 a.m to 4 a.m.; Morning Watch, 
4 a.m. to 8 a.m. ; Forenoon Watch, 8 a.m. to noon. 


At D and E are the bumkins and bitts on both the port (left side 
looking forward) and the starboard sides of the ship. The bumkins 
(originally boomkins) were short wooden projections, or booms, to 
which the braces, which controlled the main yardarm, were hooked. 
(The manner in which these braces led to the bumkins is shown by 
the dotted lines marked 120 on the Hull and Rigging Plan.) Bitts 
were used for securing mooring ropes when the vessel was in harbor. 
Sea terms, derived from this word, are : to bitt the cable (put it around 
the bitts, in order to fasten it, or slacken it gradually in order to veer 
away), bitter (which means the turn of the cable that is around the 
bitts), and to the bitter end (which means "to the end of the cable" 
or "to that part of the cable which remains within the ship when she 
rides at anchor"). 

The letter F indicates the companionway at the entrance from the 
poop to the cabin (H). The skylight (G), together with recessed win- 
dows in the cabin's sides, was the means by which daylight entered 
the quarters of the officers and passengers below. The interior of the 
clippers was usually painted white or pearl-color; panels were of ma- 
hogany and other ornamental woods, and decorations were in gilt 
and enamel. The captain's stateroom (overlooking the starboard side 
of the ship), the pantry, and officers' quarters (overlooking the port 
side) were in the forward end of this deckhouse. A doorway gave entry 
to the main deck. The outside of the cabins was painted pure white; 
with skylight frames, companions, and cornices of Spanish mahogany 
or India teak fitted with highly polished brass. Note the channels at 
L, for spreading the standing rigging clear of the bulwarks. (See Hull 
and Rigging Plan for the illustration of their use.) 

At N on either side of the main deck are the after-boats, swung from 
davits (O). The starboard boat is square-sterned, while the other is 
of the whale-boat type. P indicates the after hatch, on which is fastened 
a booby-hatch with doors leading to the between decks. There are 
more channels at either side at L. 

Amidships at Q are stationed the pumps for keeping the bilges (that 


part of the floor of a ship, originally written "bulges," on each side of 
the keel) clear of water, while immediately after, around the mainmast 
at S, is the main fife rail (R) into which were fitted the belaying pins to 
which part of the running rigging was fastened. The remainder of the 
running rigging was belayed to pins in the forward fife rail at Y, and 
to pin rails at the mizzen mast, on the inner side of the bulwarks near 
the channels, and at the stern. These pin rails were of mahogany or 
teak; the belaying pins were sometimes tipped with brass. 

The main hatch (T) would have had tarpaulin coverings fastened 
down firmly, by means of cleats, to the coamings at the sides. This 
hatch was the means of entry to the cargo. The winch indicated at U 
was used for hoisting heavy boxes, bales, and bundles to the deck. (A 
detail of the winch is shown at the upper edge of the plan.) 

Abaft the foremast (Y) is the deckhouse (X), where were located 
the crew's quarters, store rooms, and galley (sometimes called the 
cook room, and sometimes the caboose). The galley funnel projects at 
W, and atop the house are the forward boats. The sides of the house 
would have been paneled with mahogany, with recessed windows, 
paneled doors, and a halved galley door. There is another pair of 
bitts (E) on this deck, and channels at L. 

The position for the ship's large ornamental bell (bearing the ship's 
name) is shown at Z, and across the three points marked A A is 
indicated the position for the windlass, which was used for winding 
up the anchor cables. BB indicates the position of the catheads. Cats' 
heads were sometimes carved upon these horizontal pieces of timber. 
The cat aboard ship was a strong tackle used for drawing up the an- 
chor to the catheads. 

CC marks the place for the capstan, although there were usually 
several of these aboard. FF marks the position of the bowsprit extend- 
ing beyond the forecastle deck (EE) and over the figurehead. The jib- 
boom (GG) is shown extending beyond the bowsprit. Older ships 
had also a flying jib-boom, which was a still more forward extension. 
The jib-boom carried the jib staysails forward beyond the stem. 




The small packet deck plan shows the arrangement of the deck 
furnishings of a fairly late packet. Note the "cod's head and mackerel 
tail" oudine. 

[Q«z^]@ 3 !Q [lS3>-l 3 

'Deck Puam 

Masting and Rigging 

Masts. A full-rigged ship had three masts — fore, main, and mizzen — 
with square sails on all three. Each individual mast was further divided 
into three parts, namely: the lower mast, the topmast, and a three-in- 
one mast which included the topgallant, royal and shysail masts in a 
single unit. Over all these was another short mast, called the pole, 
atop which was the truc\, the latter a flattish piece generally gilded and 
pierced with two holes for the signal ropes, or halliards. 


I. Lower Mast. The lower masts were always stepped, the steps 
being blocks of stout timber surrounding the heel of the mast 
and fitted into a recess cut into the keelson, with the exception 
of the mizzen-mast which was stepped on the beams of the lower 
deck. All that part of the mast below deck level was known as the 
housing, and at that point, as well as for a slight distance above 


the deck level, the mast itself was octagonal in shape. As it rose 
through the deck, a wedge was driven in at each one of its eight 
sides, to keep it firmly in position. A lower mast always paral- 
leled, for a space, the one above it; and this space, where the two 
masts paralleled, was called the doubling. (The name itself and 
a glance at the Hull and Rigging Plan will illustrate the mean- 
ing.) That part of the individual mast which doubled the lower 
part of the one above was called the head, and the top of the 
head was the cap. The part between the head and the mast 
proper was called the hounds: identifiable in old-time ships as 
the part of the mast head which gradually projected on the right 
or left side, beyond the cylindrical or conical surface. The sides 
of the mast at the hounds of the clippers were cut flat, and solid 
blocks of oak, called chee\s, were bolted on; they were flat on 
top to provide a place for two strong bars of oak timber, called 
trestle trees, to which were bolted other pieces of timber, called 
cross trees. These, in turn, supported a sort of crescent-shaped 
platform called the top, the principal purpose of which was to ex- 
tend the topmast shrouds, so as to form a greater angle with the 
mast, and to give additional support to the latter. The tops were 
also used as landing places for men climbing up into the rigging. 
It will be noted that seamen always climbed up on the outside 
of the tops. On top of the very head of each lower mast (also of 
each topmast) will be seen a strong, thick block of wood, which 
was called, aptly enough, a cap. This cap was connected to the 
top of the lower mast by a square tenon, and it had a hole through 
the forward end through which the foot of the topmast was 
2. Topmast. Topmasts were not stepped, but fidded, and they were 
kept in position partly by the cap of the lower mast, partly by 
the trestle trees, and partly by a block of wood placed through 
a hole in the heel and resting on the trestle trees, called the fid. 
The topmasts had no cheeks, and the topmast cross trees formed 
a light frame of four pieces of timber placed across its head, and 



its trestle trees rested on its hounds, above which it was bolted to 
the mast. The topmasts had spreaders for extending the shrouds 
of the upper masts, but no platforms. 

There was also a top bloc\ at the heel of the topmast, through 
which a top rope employed to fix the mast in its place or lower it 
in very bad weather, was rove. 
3. Topgallant, Royal, and Skysail Masts. This spar was arranged the 
same as the topmast. 

Yards. The term yard is applied to all those spars which arc suspended 
across the masts of a sailing ship, with rigging, and to which sails are 
attached. On the mizzen mast these were called (starting from the 
bottom) : crossjack yard,* mizzen topsail yard, mizzen topgallant yard, 
mizzen royal yard, and mizzen skysail yard. On the main mast they 
were called : main lower yard, main topsail yard, main topgallant yard, 
main royal yard, and main skysail yard. And on the foremost they 
were : fore lower yard, fore topsail yard, fore topgallant yard, fore royal 
yard, and fore skysail yard. There were upper and lower topsail yards 
in the later ships, as well as upper and lower topgallant yards. 

Yard arms are the two ends of a yard. The word "gallant" is a 
corruption of the word "garland," while the word "royal" is applied 
to the topmost feature of a series. Royal yards, royal sails, etc., prob- 
ably owe their identifying name to the fact that at one time the topmast 
was used only as a staff to take the standard. 

Spanker Boom and Gaff. There were two additional spars on the 
after side of the mizzen mast: the lower was called the spanker 
boom; and the upper, the spanker gaff. These spars served to spread 
the big fore-and-aft sail called the spanker or driver. 

Spencer Gaff. A very few ships carried a small sail, similar to the 
spanker, on the after side of the mainmast. The sail was called the 
spencer, and the spar, to spread it, the spencer gaff. 

Bowsprit. The bowsprit inclined over the bow of the ship. The 
angle it made with the waterline was called the "steeve." 

* The crossjack sail was seldom used on any but merchant ships. 


Jib-boom. A prolongation of the bowsprit, mounted on top of the 
bowsprit and, for a space, parallel wiih the other. 

Studdingsail Yards and Booms. These were used to lengthen the 
yards, so that additional sails (studdingsails) could be carried. 

Rigging and Tackles 

Rigging was a general name given to all ropes used to support the 
spars, to extend or reduce sails, or to arrange them. Tackle-work con- 
sisted of blocks and fixtures through which the rigging was rove. 
Blocks. A block consisted of three or four parts: (i) shell or outside 
(wood or iron) part, (2) sheave, or wheel, through which the rope 
ran, (3) pin, or axle, on which the sheave turned, and (4) strap, or 
part by which the block was made fast to any particular station. Mor- 
tised blocks were made of a single block of wood, mortised out to re- 
ceive a sheave. Blocks that had no sheaves were called by various 
names and had various shapes : hearts, bull's eyes, dead-eyes (originally 
dead men's eyes), etc. 

Tackles. These had various names, according to their places of 
service: reef tackles were provided for the courses and upper topsails; 
the spanker gaff was prevented from swinging about by tackles called 
vangs; yard arm tackles were used for hoisting articles on board, etc. 
Standing Rigging. All parts of the standing rigging, confined to the 
middle line of the ship, were called stays; all those that spread out 
sideways were called shrouds; and those that belonged to the bowsprit 
were variously named, as can be seen in the Hull and Rigging Plan. 

1. Shrouds. All the masts had shrouds, on both port and starboard 
sides, which served to keep them steadied and secure, and at the 
same time provided, by means of cross lines called ratlines, lad- 
ders for the men to crawl up on when it was necessary for them 
to go aloft. The middle of each shroud passed around the head 
of the mast, and the bottom end came down to the tops (top- 
mast and topgallant shrouds) or to the channels, where they were 



made fast to dead-eyes. Small ropes, called lanyards, were rove 
through the shroud dead-eyes, as well as through the dead-eyes 
secured to timbers below the channels (futtock dead-eyes), and 
were then drawn tight by a tackle. 

Futtoc\ shrouds were short ropes passing obliquely under the 
tops to hold the shrouds of the topmast. 

2. Stays. Stays were strong ropes which ran diagonally downward 
from the masts, and forward, to prevent the mast from falling 

3. Preventer Stays. These ran parallel with the mainstays, and above 
them, and also served as supports. The topmasts and topgallant 
masts had backstays also, which ran from the mastheads to the 
bulwarks. The royal and skysail yards had backstays only. 

Running Rigging. This was the general name given to all the lines 
needed for the purpose of moving the yards and handling the sails. 
Halliards were used for hoisting the yards; braces, for turning them; 
and lifts, for tilting them. When the lengths of the braces controlling 
any one yard were equal, that yard was said to be squared. 


"V f= el s of Rio 

5CH00NER Schooner Brigantine BarQUENTINE BaRQUE. 

The Sails 




The sails of vessels are of two types: square or fore-and-aft; and 
there are a number of ways in which the two types can be disposed on 
two or three masts. Several of these are shown in the above drawing, 
and it will be noted that, of the seven types shown, the ship is the only 
one that carries square-sails on all masts. To be technically correct, the 
word "ship" should be applied only to a sailing vessel so rigged. 

A sail is always bent to a yard, and takes its name from the yard 
to which it is bent. Square sails can be placed at right angles to the 
direction of the keel of the ship — as when going before the wind; or, 
by means of braces, they can be set obliquely to the keel when the 
wind is from the side — as when set "on a wind" or "by the wind." 
All fore-and-aft sails are set on gaffs or stays; they are set, approxi- 
mately, in a vertical plane passing through the keel, although they, 
too, can be set with a certain degree of obliquity by easing off the 
sheet, or lower corner of the sail. 

The upper part of a sail is called the head; the lower part, the 
foot. The sides, in general, are called leeches, although the weather 
side (side edge where a wind enters) of a fore-and-aft sail is specifi- 
cally called the luff, and the other edge is called the after-leech. The 
corners of sails are called clews, but the top triangular corner of a 
jib is called the head. The weather clew of a fore and-aft sail, or of a 
course, while set, is the tac\. The sails of a clipper ship were made 
of cotton canvas, and all of them, both square and fore-and-aft, were 
edged with a rope, known as a bolt rope. 




\S H,P 

Reverse of Sail. 

MizzcnMast Main Mast 

tOMir2EN-Tbp-SAiL IO(1flwS«ii.CM«iiCN«sO 
& I MizzJEitTfiALLftKr-SftiL. 1 1 MaiH-Top-Sai u 
22Mizzen-Royal-Sail IZMmiiTofiGflLuiNT-Sfliu 
23M izzen-Sky-S/>il l3Mflw-RorAL-5nii. 

A. Leech -Lines 

B. Bunt-Lines 


D. 5TUO0ING-5fllL-"YfiRDS 

16 MainTop -5ruw>iN<s5flis 


E.5T^bDlM e-SAlL-BflOMq l8Mlllll.RaYALOr'uManiLa, 

Fore Mast 

I FoRE-SAIL(lbRECow«»E) 

4-Fore-Royal Sail 

6 Fore-LoWer-StunSai ls 

7 fwiE-ToP-SruODlNGSftlLS 

8 fat\e-ToP-6fiLLftNrSTbNSfliL5 

9F0(?E-R D YftL l SrUD0lN6->fill5 

Shown oh 
Smaller R.ans 

Appearing HBovC 

• • • 

FClew Garnets 

(ok AU S Ail3) 


fbH M»kin 6 FA5T -. 

Lowe rCorxEro? Sms) 

KftoT Ropes 

Running Gear, etc., for Square Sails. A square sail was attached to its 
yard by short lengths of rope yarn, called rovings, which were made 
fast to an iron rod, running nearly the whole length of the yard, called 
a jackstay. The upper corners, or clews, were fastened to the yard by 
small ropes called ear-rings. One end of each ear-ring was fastened 
to a loop, or cringle, fixed in that part of the sail, and the other end 
was passed six or seven times around the yard-arm and through the 
cringle. (Every reef on a yard had its respective ear-ring, which was 
passed in the same manner.) 
Sheets. These were ropes, or chains, fastened to the two lower ends 

•■■S MtoSbMB SEMScra 


of the sail, serving to spread the sail and keep it taut. The expression 
"flowing sheets" was applied to the position of the sheets of the 
principal sails when they were loosened so as to receive the wind more 
obliquely than when the ship was sailing before the wind, but more 
perpendicularly than when she was close-hauled, or endeavoring to 
go as nearly as possible in the direction from which the wind was 

Clew-garnets. Ropes by which the clews of the lower square sails were 
drawn up. 

Clewlines. Ropes by which the clews of the upper sails were drawn 
up to the yard. Clewlines were divided into: (i) buntlines, which 
drew upon the center, or bunt, of the sail; (2) leech lines, which 
controlled the leeches, or sides, of the sail; and (3) between lines, 
which controlled the parts between the bunt and the leeches. When 
a sail was hauled up to its yard, it was said to be clewed up to its yard. 
Bowlines. Ropes fastened near the middle of the leech by three or 
four subordinate parts called bridles. Used especially, although infre- 
quently, when it was necessary to keep the principal sails from 

Reef lines. Short ropes, which passed through eyelet holes in the reef 
bands and served to shorten sail. The part of the sail to be reefed was 
drawn up by the reef tackle. Footropes, or horses as they were called, 
extended along the yards (also along the bowsprit) and served for the 
men to stand on when reefing or furling sail. 
Gaskets. These were cords used to furl, or tie up, the sail firmly to its 
yard. The gaskets at the middle were called bunt gaskets; next, quar- 
ter gaskets; and, at the extremities, yard arm gaskets. 
Brails. This was a general name given to all the ropes employed for 
the purpose of hauling up sails, when it was desired to furl them. 
The process was called brailing them up. 

To Set a Main Course or Pore Course. Before the sail was loosed, the 
double block of a tackle was made fast to the weather clew, and the 
single block was hooked low down upon the chess-tree (a piece of 
wood, one on each side of the ship), and the fall (loose of the tackle) 


was led aft. Then the tack and fall were manned at the same time. 
When the sail was loosed, instructions were given to: ease away the 
weather clew-garnet, let go the buntlines and leech lines, bowse down 
upon the tackle, and take in the main tack. Then: haul aft the sheet, 
brace up the yard, and haul the main bowline. 
To Set a Topsail. Instructions were to: man the lee sheet, and, the 
sail loosed, ease down the buntlines and lee clewline; haul home the 
lee sheet; then to: haul home the weather sheet, hoist the sail, and 
brace up as required. 

Reefing. Instructions were to: top up the boom, ease down the peak 
and throat halliards, haul down the reef cringle to the boom by the 
reef tackle; and then to: lash the tack and tie the points without 
rolling the slack canvas. 

Second and third reefs were taken in as the wind increased. 
To Ta\e in a Course. Instructions were to: man the weather clew- 
garnet, ease off the tack and bowline, and run it up. Then to: man 
the lee clew-garnet, buntlines, leech lines, and weather braces. All ready, 
to: ease away the sheet, haul up the clew-garnet, bundines and leech 
lines, and round in the weather brace till the yard pointed to the 
wind. Then to: haul tight the trusses, braces, lifts, and rolling tackle, 
and let hands furl the sail. 

To Ta\e in a Topsail. In one of the methods for doing this, instruc- 
tions were to: man both the clewlines, buntlines and weather brace, 
at the same time; thus, when the lee sheet was eased off, the weather 
brace was hauled in with ease and the yard laid to the wind. When 
the lee clewline was half up, instructions were to: ease off the weather 
sheet and run up the weather clewline; then to: haul tight the lee 
brace, bowse tight the rolling tackle, and furl the sail. 
Purling Sail. It was always necessary to take in sail when the weather 
was at its worst, and the work was extremely dangerous. The part of 
the work which could be done on deck merely bunched the sail, so 
that it was necessary for the men to go up into the rigging and out 
on the yards to gather up the canvas and punch it into shape before 


tying it to the yards by means of the gaskets. Only square sails were 
juried. Fore-and-aft sails were stowed. 

Running Gear for Staysails. A fore-and-aft sail had only three ropes: 
halliards for drawing them up; downhauls to pull them down, when 
shortening sail; and sheets for stretching the lower corner to the right 
or left. The spanker had outhalls at the end of the boom and of the 
gaff. It had also a series of brails, or ropes, which passed through 
pulleys and fastened to the aftermost leech of the sail, to truss it up 
when required. A sheet was attached to each side of the spanker 

Extra Sails Set in Fair Weather. There were a number of these, and 
all except the studdingsails were used from time to time according 
to the whims of the various captains. They included: 

1. Studdingsails. Set in addition to "all plain sail" in light and 
normal winds. The booms for these sails slid in and out of iron 
rings along the tops of the regular yards, and their own yards 
were suspended from their own booms. The studdingsail yards 
were brought down on deck when the studdingsails were brought 
down. (The studdingsails are shown on the Square Sail Plan.) 

2. Water Sails. These were small sails spread under the lower stud- 
ding sail booms or the driver boom, by some captains, in a fair 
wind and calm sea. They were seldom used, however, as it was 
thought that they tended to take the wind out of the fore stud- 

3. Ringtails. The ringtail was used only in light, favorable winds. 
The head of a long, narrow one was sometimes bent to a yard 
which was hauled up to the after end of the spanker gaff, and 
the tack was extended aft by a boom lashed to the spanker 
boom. In former days, on the types of ships that could accom- 
modate it, the ringtail was a small quadrangular sail extended 
on a little mast perched on top of the taffrail. The lower part was 
stretched out by a boom and extended horizontally from the 




Jimmie Greens. A quadrilateral sail, spread under the jib-boom, 

the head of which was lashed to a light yard. 

Moonra\ers. Triangular masthead sails, the upper angle of which 

was lashed, below the masthead cap and the outer clew, to the 

yard arms below. 

Bonnets. Extra pieces of sail lashed to the foot of a course. 

Skyscrapers. Triangular sails set above the royal topgallants. 



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Sail 5 5et 





Name and Speed 





f Gallant Sail* 




Flyinq Jib 



Liqht 5ail» 



Li gmt 






Wind just Sufficient for 
Stccraqe way t©4.m.p.H. 







Ship would sail from 
4 to ©miles per hour 









1 to 

Ship would sail from; 

6 to 6 miles per hour 

7 to 9)fe miles per hour 
fi to 10 miles per hour 

TWlant Breeze 




ate ; 









Ship would sail from: 
Sto 11*4 milas per hour 
lOto 13 miles per hour 

Fresh T'Gattant Breeze 




Full and bv,«ova1s. 
in a seaway to 
Royals and FlVina 
Jibs taken in ito tw# 
reefs in the Top Mile 







Whole Topsail 


Strong Z.E 


Full and by, sinote 
reef arid T'GaUanrS. 
Much sea- two 
reefs in the Topsails 
to "taKinq in 



2 '69 
3 53 

Reefed Topsails 

Close reefed 

i 7 




Full and toy, double 
reef and Jib; to 
treble reefed 
Topsails, reefed 
Spanker and Jib. 

39 . 




4 62 

Sails C 

OMriOMCV SE.T Bvi^c wind . 




5^1L5 5et 






4. OJCD 

Fre sh 


Pull and by, triple 



Scuddinq 5a»ls 




ree f to close reefed 
Topsails, reefed 
Pourscs: to takinq 
in Spanker, Jib, 


5-2 9 




Fore- and Mizzen 





Close reefed Pore 



Half 5torm 

and Main; reefed 



Foresail and 


7- 5a 



Fora Staysail, 



Close hauled; to 



reefed Courses, 
close raefed 




Main Topsail- 
Fore Staysail, 
niz.-z.en TVvsail, 



To takinq in 







Close reefed 
rlain Topsail and 



Whole Storm 





re c f e d Fore &a i 1 a n d 
For* Staysail-, to 
close reefed 




Main Topsail, 
Storm Staysails 



or close-reefed 


Main Topsail only 


1 1 


Storm Stavsalls 


To Bare Poles 




Bare Poles 





Dimensions of Masts and Spars 


Diameter In Inches t_ Indicates Length in Feet M Indicates Mast-heads or Yard-arms in Feet- Poles '0' 



( K L 

M A 1 N 


































Sea Witch 

33 83i 

Stag Hound 














33 i 













Game Cock 






John Bertram 



Witch of the 












Flying Cloud 







36 88 









7 -i 










36 97 























Flying Fish 











Sovereign of 

the Seas 












42 92 j 












Westward Ho 












Great Republic 














44 1 












- rebuilt 




























James Baines 























Champion of 

the Seas 























Cutty Sark a 
Sea Witch 




















14 4 

■ ill i : i 



Masts Stepped in 


Sail Area 






per loot in ins. 

renlpr (11 ma^s 






















muz en 















Stag Hound 














1-1/4 1 





Game Cock 



John Bertram 



1-1/2 1 




divide d 


Witch of the 









Flying Cloud 

























1-1/4 I 










-1/2 1 


Flying Fish 






Cap for 


Sovereign of 


11 ,000 to 

the Seas 













7/8 1 




Westward Ho 







7/8 1 




Great Republic 



























James Baines 













Champion of the Seas 

















Cutty Sark $■ 












• of lower ' masts 'deck ti ca/S. 

YjAR r DS 

F i; E 

M A I 





































Stag Hound 































Game Cock 






Witch of the Wave 











Flying Cloud 























































Flying Fish 











Sovereign of the Sea: 




























Westward Ho 











Great Republic 








































ft ' 

James Baines 
























2 4 










13 i 





















Champion oftheSeai 

























Cutty Sark 




















Stag Hound 



687 low 




M . 1 £ _ LI - - 






Flying oroater 

Steve or 




















L M 









































Witch of the Wave 










Flying Cloud 













5 r 





























ft 3 ft. Jibe- 

Flying Fish 



31 J 








Sovereign of the Seas 






4 4 











3 4 






Westward Ho 
Great Republic 













































1S+t4/r. lin/ier 

James Baines 



















Champion cf*«S<* 
Cutty Sark 















11 J 








upper ' 


From U. S. Nautical Magazine and Naval Journal 

.Appendix III 
Abstract of Los 


Clipper Smip 


ChartesA Ranlett, Master 

Shanghae To New York 





w , 




Jan. 1 

- b 

• 4 
•• 5 

• 6 

- 7 

• 8 

- 9 

28 I6IZ244 


225 45 

119 55 

322 31 

117 40 







612 55112 18 



96 15127 29110 



8 44) 

50 108 


50166 59160 


107 7 





103 24 

1610 58101 34 

II 56100 16 


12 37 

98 4 
97 30 



5 42 

95 55119 

92 2 








2273 30 



3010 30 

5790 S8B 



N E 
N E 


























S#6 m 80]60 
3,347 299 80 

34a m 77(79 





55 E 


and Squally 
Squalls and 








Left theffocrat 2PM,discharqtd James 

Potter off light-ship. Strong wind. 

Winds near Saddle f stands at 10PM. 

Strong breeze and rouqh sea. 

Strong NE. Wind and roue/ h sea. 

Doub/e reefs C/ear. 

Stronq ME Trade Winds. 

Cfoudy dnct moderate. Trade winds. 

Good breeze and cfoudy. 

tn the night, cfear weather. Oay- 

t/me cfoudy. 7bferabfy good breeze. 

Stiff breeze. 

f/'rst part fight breeze, Last part, 

moderating. Going on/y six mites. 

Light and steady breeze. Sea very 

smooth and fair 

Light breeze throughout. 

Light breeze, ship making 7 miles 

an hour. Passed St. Barbs and 

other /stands, and crossed the . 

hhe at / M. 

Moderate, and fight winds. 

fn the Straits ofSundu. Wind wry high. 

Light Winds, triable and squally. 

Light winds and squalor. Some rain. 

We are out past Java f-fead, and 

feirfy in the fndian Ocean. 

fresh breeze first part. Middle and 

fast part calm and variable winds. 

Breezes small. 

"fikrabte breeze from northward. 

Some sguatfs. Get along a little faster. 

Ughtwinds commence. Cet along slowly. 

Long shells of alms, and very hard 

spells of high t airs. 

Liqht breezes, fight Sguatfs, but 

fain Made a tittle more distance. 

Good fresh S£. track wind. Made 

25Z miles. 

Abstract or Los 

5m ip 

Sufi Pf* I3C 

Trim 5manchac to New York 1457 








i r~~j o s> 

lar Part 

?"■>■ Baaz 

3m. Pa 

Re r^i,AR k v5 

Jan. Z5 

■ 24 

■ 25 

. 26 
■• 27 
•• 28| 
.. 29 
- 50 
» 31 
Feb. I 








• 27 

Mar. I 







20 681 25 


2970 50173 

45166 42 


4193 M 80 79 



164) 4,711691 

4547 m 77 




26 759 45240 


1859 10 


D56 00 200 

3/128 I 

3730 50 

59 38232 



49 726 

37 250 

39 53170 




50 dZ 




5280 298 79|79 









7,23 1130-572 
7,3a 50-3 72 
754550 572 

E 5 E 


E5 E 
E5 E 





5 E 







E£ N 


N E 





Sand calm 






N E 






ENE to 







5 56(240 
2 12188 
49130 40|W 3£I65 

4634 3 

4732 42 
483Z I 

2827 6 
3SZ5 23 



764 3M 72 

Calm and 
$279plHl686fl| 5E 


7,985 M 70 

69 Calm I 

852.1 m 66 


5029 48 

3 25175 

6761 30 It 








28 38 4 

52Z7 56 


9,3713d 7373 



Calm 5W 

53 25 Z 

5522 3 

15 12 



5423 4813 ZC200 



4416 57 


19 2fi|l90 


10,07c- JO 



741771 ENE 
7778 ENE 


2521 12 
46Z2 54142 






5 E Good fresh trade winds. 
E Fresh breezes past 4- hours Night 

tight, and iiqhtni//q at midnight. 
ENE tiqht track wind, and fine weather. 
EbyN L >qht trade wind, and fine "weather. 
Eby H, E by5 L ight trade wind, and tine weather 
trade wind, and fine weather. 

t/ght trade, afittk/me wind fine weather 

Good first/ freeze, ship goes Wmiles per hour 

Strong breeze. 

fkd a hurricane thynmdmfit,Jan.dl, tofeh t,at<rm. 

Gate over: 

Cah at/ yesterday, qood breeze to-day. 

Otttfie /'stands ftauritias and Bourbon. 


Stronq bade winds, c/oudyweatt/er,wyn><tf>su. 

Good fresh freeze and rvuqh sea. 

C/oudy and moderate. 
' r ze sprang up at //?/% continues fresh. 

Good freeze, moderaunq midd/e part. 

Light \rfnds, fine weather, and smooth sea. 
NE Moderate breeze and dear weather. 

Fbint Afotai coast of Africa, CapeGood 

Mope bears north. 

Cioody aodC/eara/ternatefcStnngtidt Mr o/*r. 

Catmmst of hie Zd fours. 

Breeze ysrvng 14a at tfft. 

Good breeze, fogs 

Good breeze and foqgy, sguahs passing 

over, with fine rain. 

fresh breeze, misty andsguotty. 

Wind dying away. 

Windtiqht andqrowinq/ess. Sea 

toterahty smooth, and misty rain. 

Smooth sea. Current t mite an hour to 

the westward. Cioe/ds hanging a/t around 
'a t/qht air sprung up. Sea 

smooth, andp/easant weather. 

winds, and fine, pteasant weather 

Light wind/'n thenight,andsgua/is/r,/ttd^in. 

W/hd 'temb/e. Considerable fine weather. 

Squatty. Ait the spars cast adrift. 

Cre~kr cfeaninq ship for paint inq. 

Squads bto/ oyer us. Rain. 

Light regutar trade wind,and fine weatk/. 

\&ry tight wind. 

' weather throughout. 

Finished painting on deck. 

ENE&Calm Calm 
N E EandCdlm 
55E 5E 
5E SEbyS 

5Et55W SSE 

NE&Calm NEtoN 

SSEtoE llX.Wf.jgM- 



EtoSE EtoSE 
55EtoE mMM^fyr/epkasantx 

Abstract of Log Ship «5 v t^«^=>^*/.S£- From Shanghai to Newark. I607_*_ 



Mar 2 

- 3 
. 4 












II 3249 

7014 3653 9 



12 5325 12 

5027 25235 



831 37206 


4459 1926811306 m 79 79 

1642 51 




80 37 3770 




212 2^97979 







2 68 12,576 89 79 79 


17 3056 25276 

3259 56276 
4962 15246 


3166 26160 







3274 0812913,39! 5951 

11633 m 















1 83 14943 M 89 64 



13907 31 3 76 74 

92 1 5,770>J- 3 48 49 





70 66| 


V\/ i i^i 

1st R*>kt 2nd. R^ct-r Jrp R*r.t 





























Re mark s 

E Goo/ brreze, and very t/r>e weather 
Crew paint/hg adoard ship. 
E 5 E Good breeze and fine weather. 
E 5 E f/ne weather, wind steady. 
5 E first?, moderate /breeze. 
S5EtoNE Moderate breeze. 
N E S£ trade-w/nds /eft us at /PM, and 
Atf. trades can?e ip in a sguatfy. B/ew 
hard j// night, and rain pk/ity , 
ENEteSE Good fresh /V£ trade winds, ftouqh sea. 
NEbyN Strong trade w/nds. Copper qetting 

very /bad, and rotting up 
N E Strong trade winds. Our head/s gone, and 

copper getting Add. 
NE Strong trade vr/nds. The 
figure-head entirety carried 
NEtoENE Strong trade winds, and sgua//y. 

Rough sea. Ship ro/ts heavily. 
NlfoZHEStroogrVF. trade w'nt/s. Sguai/y with 
severe rain. Rough sea. 
NE Continues a good strong breeze 'and 'sgudfy. 
E&E5E Fresh A/C. trades, less wind 
5 E L/ght wind, smooth sea and fine weather. 
5 5 E We have tost the Tracks, but haur a good 
breeze and the ship gets afonq f/nety. 
ENE Sguaf/y and catm. 
S /Light fairw/nd. 
WNW Strong ga/e pdrt of this day. 
NWty W Strong wind. M/dd/e and tast 

part, dy/ng away. 
NVbyW Gates of wind. 
NNEto E tatter part moderate. 
Calm Put in for Sandy /-took, and /ay 
to for dayfight. frtot came adoard 
SAM of the ZSth. 




LoN: 3>is¥. Dise DAys itesvPv. Mikdie 


E£B. 25 


























<m 28 

























w*rw w 


















































































Appendix IV 

Abstract o^JLoo 



Ely ft 







E. S E. 





O// the 72 r " anchored in the2)oii/nS af Spm , having saded 32-41 miles 
"Ylefi'adno ohservafion of the sun for a latitude zrnf it March Q. We made 
thejand22 days from New {fork. The passage hasheen a rough one in- 
deed. We made 342 miles in 22 hours and the/i had to bring the ship to, 
on account of/hictc weather and ' proximity to /and. Tne ship hehaves 
nohly, andean easily make 400 miles' in 24 hours. We were todays to 
Scillu, Since that t/'me tight win 'dr and cairns. ~We l&id hyalf of t'/ie day 
Sunday, llfhinsi:, about 12 miles from Isle of Wight; meather thick 
and foggy: The ship is tight and strong and the best ship afseaTwaS 
ever in . J/ou would hardly Jknou/ that' i/oir usere at sea in a 
heavy sea j she moves along ensile/, making riofliss, in foct,Splen- 
didly, and r si feezS /ike a boat in a pond} a hoy e&n steer her easily. 

Capt. J.I/imemiriier. 
v The GrearRepublic, which arrived atGravesendl$th.;would 
probably lie of f Boiberville foi%romeda^ waiting the ^Jfnii^ 
fides, when .she would po higher lip the river and discharge 
into lighters, as none of the entrances of the docks are wide 
enou o 0h lo admit her. j£ m ^ MolrtW5r 

KAOLir icAt, magazine 


Barker (Capain Sir David Wilson, R.D., R.N.C.) — Things a Sailor Needs to 

Know, 2 vols., 1930-1 
Biddlecomb (Capt. Sir George, R.N.) — The Art of Rigging, 1848 
Blackburn (Isaac) — The Theory and Science of Naval Architecture, 1836 
Blackmore (E.) — The British Mercantile Marine, 1897 
Chapelle (Howard I.) — The Baltimore Clipper, 1930 
Clark (Arthur H.) — The Clipper Ship Era, 1910 
Coggeshall (George) — History of the American Privateers and Letters-of- 

marque, 1856 

An Historical Sketch of Commerce and Navigation, i860 

Colin (Ambroise) — La Navigation Commercials au XIX" Siecle, 1901 

Colton (Rev. Walter, U.S.N.)— Dec\ and Port, 1850 

Cutler (Carl C.) — Greyhounds of the Sea, 1930 

Dictionary of Trade, Commerce, and Navigation, 1844 

Encyclopedia of Ships and Shipping, ed. by Herbert Mason, 1908 

Fairburn (William) — Treatise on Iron Shipbuilding, 1865 

Falconer (William) — New and Universal Dictionary of the Marine, 1815 

Fincham (John) — Introductory Outline of the Practice of Ship-building, 1825 

History of Naval Architecture, 1851 

Outline of Shipbuilding, 1852 

Directions for haying Off Ships on the Mould-Loft Floor, 1859 

Forbes (Robert Bennett) — Personal Reminiscences, 1882 

Fortune (Robert) — A Journey to the Tea Countries of China, 1852 

Fox-Smith (C.) — The Return of the "Cutty Sar\" 1925 

Glascock (Capt. William Nugent, R.N.) — The Naval Officer's Manual, 1848 

Griffiths (John Willis) — Treatise on Marine and Naval Architecture, 1850 

The Progressive Shipbuilder, 1875 

Hall (Henry) — American Navigation, 1880 

Shipbuilding Industry of the United States, 1882 

Harnack (Edwin P.) — All About Ships and Shipping, 1934 

Holmes (Sir George, C.V., K.C.V.O., C.B.) — Ancient and Modern Ships, 2 

vols., 1900-6 

Howe & Matthews — American Clipper Ships, 2 vols., 1926-7. 



Iconographic Encylopadia, arr. by J. G. Heck, 4 vols., 1851 

Kipping (Robert) — Masting and Rigging, 1864 

Knowles (John, F.R.S.)— The Elements and Practice of Naval Architecture, 

Low (Captain Charles P.) — Some Recollections, 1906 

Low (William Gilman) — A. A. Low & Brothers' Fleet of Clipper Ships, 1922 
Lindsay (W. S.) — History of Merchant Shipping, 4 vols., 1816-74 
Longridge (C. Nepean) — The "Cutty Sar\'' 2 vols., 1933 
Lubbock (Basil) — The China Clippers, 1914 

The Colonial Clippers, 192 1 

— The Log of the Cutty Sar\, 1924 

McKay (Richard C.) — Some Famous Sailing Ships and their Builder Donald 

McKay, 1928 
M'Culloch (J. R.) — Commercial Dictionary, 1854 
Maury (M. F.) — The Physical Geography of the Sea, 1855 
Morison (Samuel E.) — The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1925 
Murray (Andrew, M.I.C.E.) — The Theory and Practice of Ship-building, 


Ship-Building in Iron and Wood, 1863 

Park (Vice-Admiral Francois Edmond) — Souvenirs' de Marine, 5 vols., 1889- 

Peake (James) — Rudimentary Treatise on Shipbuilding, 2 vols., 1867 

Rudiments of Naval Architecture, 1855 

Reed (E. J.) — Shipbuilding in Iron and Steel, 1869 

Roerie (Commandant J. Vivielle et G. La) — Navires et Marins de la Rame a 

VHelice, 2 vols., 1930 
Russell (John Scott, F.R.S.) — The Modern System of Naval Architecture, 

Speer (William, D.D.) — China and the United States, 1870 
Steinitz (Francis) — The Ship, 1848 
Tupinier (M.) — Observations on the Dimensions of the Ships of the Line and 

Frigates in the French Navy (translated by Capt. Wm. Jones), p.p. 1830 
Webb (Wm. H.)— Plans of Wooden Ships, 1895 (?) 

White (Sir William Henry, F. R. S.)— -Manual of Naval Architecture, 1877 
Wilson (T. D.) — An Outline of Ship Building, 1873 
Navy Records Society's Publications, Sailors' Magazines and Naval Journals, 

Monthly Nautical Magazines, Harper's Magazines, periodicals, pamphlets, 

publications on The Treaty Ports, and daily newspapers for the period. 


Abdul Medjid (Sultan of Tur- 
key), 208 
Aberdeen White Star Line 

(founded 1824), 301, 304 
Abolitionists, 11 1-2 
Achilles (Br. man-of-war), 21 
Achilles (Br. steamer), 303 
Acts of Trade, British, 18 
Ada (Br. composite clipper, 

1865), 286, 291 
Adams, Capt., 166 
Adamson & Co. (Br. merchants 

and owners), 291 
Admiralty, British, 68 
Adriatic (Br. steamer), 246 
Alabama (Confederate privateer, 
1862-4, originally known as 
No. 2go), 37, 152, 239 
Alabama Packet (ship), 101 
Albert, Prince, 136 
Albert Gallatin (packet, 1849), 

Amazon (Br. steamship, 1851- 
2), Tragic Loss of, 171 et seq. 
Amberg's Menagerie, 239 
America (ship), 129 
America (steamship), 83 
America (yacht), 109, 137, 146, 

179, 228-9 
American Eagle (packet), 100 
Amphritrite (clipper, 1853), 


Anchor Fittings, 344 
Anderson, R. (Br. shipowner), 

Andrew Foster (packet), 215 
Andrew Jackson (medium clip- 
per, 1855-68), 119, 150, 215, 
230; lines, 233; 236 
Anglo-American (packet, 1848), 

Anglo-Saxon (medium clipper, 

1853-63). 239 
Anglo-Saxon (packet, 1846), 80 
Angola (opium clipper), 34 
Annawan (brig), 101 
Ann McKim (Baltimore clipper 
ship, 1833-52), 34-5; history 
of, 38-46; place in clipper 
ship history, 39 et seq.; de- 
scription of, 41; passages, 41 
et seq.; record runs, 44-5; 
lines, 47; 48, 79, 171, 323 
Antarctic (packet, 1850), 81, 

Antelope (extreme clipper, 

1852-4), 231 
Apron, Definition of, 340 
Archer (clipper, 1852-80), 118- 

9, 197, 227 
Architect (clipper, 1848), 228 
Arctic (steamship), 229 
Ardency, Definition of, 328 
Argonaut (clipper, 1849), 69 
Ariel (Br. composite clipper, 
1865-72) — history of, 282-8; 
description of, 286-7; Ph- 
ages, 287-8, 291 et seq.; 298, 
302, 293, 297 
Ariel (China packet, 1846), 56 
Arrow (Br. lorcha), 280 
Astor House, 86 
Astor, John Jacob, 24-5 

Atalanta, (clipper, 1852), 151 
Atlantic (Br steamship, lost 

1873), 246 
Atlantic (steamship), 138 
Atlantic and Pacific Canal Com- 
pany, 162 
Adantic Cable, The First, 230 
Audubon, John James, 159 
Aurora (extreme clipper, 1853- 

70's), 219 
Australia (extreme clipper, 

1852-64), 183 
Australian (Br. steamship), 249 
Australian Royal Mail Steam- 
ship Company, 249 
A.Z. (packet, 1847), 80 

Babcock, Capt. David S., 162, 

Bacon, Daniel C. (shipowner), 


Badger, George E., 225 

Bainbridge, Lieut. William, 29 

Baines, James (Br. shipowner), 
120, 244, 248 et seq., 256, 

Baines, James, & Co., 120, 178, 
249. 255. 259 

Balboa, Vasco Nunez de, 15 

Bald Eagle (extreme clipper, 
1852-61), 75, 182-3, 222, 

Ballard, Capt., 94 

Baltic (Br. steamship), 246 

Baltic (steamship), 214 

Baltimore Clippers, 26 et seq., 
32, 38; definition of, 51 

Barclay & Livingston (ship- 
owners), 161 

Barnum's Museum, 239 

Barre, Nicholas, 15 

Barry, Capt., 20 

Bateman Children, The, 197 

Bavaria (packet), 123 

Bayard, James A., 146 

Bean, William Henry (Br. 
shipowner), 80 

Bear Flag, The, 60 

Beaver, Francis E. (Br. ship- 
owner), 80 

Behm, Capt. C. F. W., 83 

Belaying Pins, 348 

Bell, Abraham C. (shipbuild- 
er), 193 

Bell, Jacob (shipbuilder), 68, 
90; footnote, 149; 183, 193, 

Belle of the West (extreme 
clipper, 1853-68), 192, 195 

Bells, Ships', 346, 348 

Bell's Sons, Abram (shipown- 
ers), 196 

Belted Will (Br. clipper, 1863), 

Benachie (Br. tug), 311 

Benjamin, Capt. Deliverance 
P., 46 

Bennett, James Gordon, 83 

Bentinck, Lord William, quoted, 

Bergh, Christian (shipbuilder), 
99, 102 

Bertram, Capt. John (ship- 
owner), 95, 106 

Between Wind and Water, Defi- 
nition of, 324 
Beveling Boards, Beveling, 337, 

Beverly (medium clipper, 1852- 

73), 183, 185 
B. F. Hoxie (clipper, 1855-62), 

Bilges, 347 

Birley & Co. (merchants), 291 
Bittern (H.M. brig), 280 
Bitts, 347 
Blackadder (Br. iron clipper, 

1870-1905), 307, 313 
Black Ball Line, James Baines's 
(Br.), 120, 178, 244, 248, 
258, 259, 261, 271 
Black Ball Line (New York), 

30, 125 
"Blackbeard" (Capt. Teach), 

Blackburn, Isaac (Br. ship- 
builder), quoted, 267-8 
Black Hawk (ex-Chief of Clip- 
pers, 1853-4), 228 
Black Prince. (Br. composite 

clipper, 1863), 286, 291 
Black Warrior (medium clip- 
per, 1853), 261 
Black Warrior (steamship), 

Blessing of the Bay (1631), 

17, 81 
Block, Adrian (Dutch lawyer- 
captain), 16 
Blue Jacket (clipper, 1854-69), 

228, 244 
Boarding House Runners, 130 
Boats, Ships', 344, 347 
Body, Balance of, 328 
Bomanjee Hormusjee (opium 

receiving hulk), 186 
Bonaparte, Jerome, 25 
Bonaparte, Napoleon, 25, 136 
Bonham, Sir Samuel G. (Gov., 

Hongkong), 188 
Bonita (medium clipper, 1853- 

7). 193-4 

Bonnets, 359 

Booby Hatches, 342 

Boole, John (shipbuilder), 79 

Booms, 351-2 

Booth & Edgar (shipowners), 
footnote, 149 

Boston (early man-of-war), 22 

Boston Light (medium clip- 
per, 1854), 230 

Boston Waterfront, 112 

Bow, Aberdeen, 268 

Bow, Definition of, 319 

Bow and Stern, Effect of, on 
Stability, 325 

Bowen, Capt. Francis, 143 

Boyd, Col. George, 106 

Breast Hooks, 341 

Breast-work, 343 

Brebner, Capt., 295 

Bremerhaven (ship), 151 

Brenda (opium clipper), 106 

Brewster, Capt. William, foot- 
note, 149 

Brewster (clipper, 1855-90), 

Bridgman, Rev. Dr., 82 



Briggs, E. & H. O. (shipbuild- 
ers), 147 et seq., 183, 192-3 

Briggs, Enos (shipbuilder), 148, 

Briggs, James (shipbuilder), 

Brisli (Br. sloop-of-war), 232 

Britannia (Br. steamship, 1840), 

Britannia (packet, 1826), 125 

British Army, Flogging in the, 

British Australian Mining Com- 
pany, 243 

British East India Company 
(The Honourable John Com- 
pany), 33-4 

British Merchant Marine — con- 
ditions of, after War of 
1812, 33 

Brock, Walter (Br. marine en- 
gineer), 309 

Broklebank (or Brocklebank), 
Messrs. H. & J. (Br. ship- 
owners), 293 

Brown, Capt. Albert H., 157 

Brown & Bell (shipbuilders), 
45, 68, 79 

Bruce, Capt., 313 

Brunei, Isambard Kingdom 
(Br. civil engineer), 239 

Buchanan, James, 226 

Bucklers, 342 

Bulwarks, 343 

Bumkins, 347 

Buoyancy, 324 

Burgoyne, Capt., 299 

Burney, William, 265 

Burns, Anthony (runaway 
slave), 225 

Burns, Robert (poet), 310- 

Burrows, Silas R., 279 

Butler, Gen. Benjamin F., 211 

Buttock Lines, 321 

Cabins, Deck Houses, 342, 

Cachenaille, Capt., 288 
Cadet (schooner), 101 
Cairngorm (Br. clipper, 1853), 

273, 278 
California, Spanish, U. S. Trade 

with, 71-2 
California (steamship), 62 
Callao, Peru, 42 
Cameron's Line, R. W., 140 
Canada (steamship), 178 
Cant, Canting, 340 
Canton, China, 275-6, 279 et 

Cape of the Keel (Cape Cod), 


Capstan, 344, 348 

Carey, S. W. (shipowner), 224 

Caroline (clipper, ex-Arey, 
1856), 223 

Carrier Dove (medium clipper, 
1855-76), 232 

Carson, Kit, 197 

Castle Garden (New York 
City), 139, 170 

Catheads, Cat, 344, 348 

Catherine II, Empress of Rus- 
sia, 208 

Caulking, 345 

Ceiling, 341 

Celestial (extreme clipper, 
1850), 73, 95. i24> 184 

Chalcedony (barque), 92 

Challenge (extreme clipper, 
1851-76) — history of, 122- 
134; description of, 123-4; 
passages, 126, 131 et seq.; 
lines, 135; 14 1 -2, 145, 162, 
185, 282, 307; spar dimen- 
sions, 364 

Challenger (Br. clipper, 1852), 
141-2, 278, 298, 303 

Chambers & Heiser (shipown- 
ers), 199 

Champion of the Seas (extreme 
clipper, 1854-76), 244; his- 
tory of, 255-62; description 
of, 255-6; passages, 256-8; 
259, 261; lines, 263; spar 
dimensions, 364 

Channels, 343, 347, 352 

Channing (barque), 93 

Chapman, Admiral Fredrik 
Henrik af (marine author- 
ity), 264 

Chapman, Capt., 173 

Chariot of Fame (medium 
clipper, 1853-70's), 193-4, 

Charles II, King of England, 


Charles Mallory (medium clip- 
per, 1851-53), 220 

Charnock, John (marine au- 
thority), 174 

Chartist Outbreak in London, 

Chase & Davis (shipbuilders), 

Cherokee (steamship), 173 

Cherub (Br. man-of-war), 148 

"Chicken Fever," 86 

Child, Sir Josiah, quoted, 66 

China, U. S. Trade with, 34, 


Chinaman (Br. clipper, 1865), 
291, 297 

Chrysolite (Br. clipper, 1851), 
141, 253; history of, 273- 
81; dimensions, 273; pas- 
sages, 141, 274, 276-8; 281 

City of Melbourne {ex-Black. 
Warrior), 261 

City of Pe\in (steamship), 102 

Civil War, American, 37, 143, 
238 et seq. 

Clark, Capt Arthur H., 204 

Clay, Henry, 86, 139 

Cleopatra . (medium clipper, 
1853-5), 227, 231 

Climax (clipper, 1853), I 9 2 , 

Clipper Ship Era — beginning 
of, 14, 35, 54; close of, 37, 
234 et seq. 

Clipper Ships — origin discussed, 
38-40; definition of, 49 et 
seq.; .advantages of type, 
52-4; American and British, 
compared, 282 et seq.; spar 
dimensions, 364 

Coamings, 342, 348 

"Cod's Head and Mackerel Tail" 

Theory, 52, 349 
Coldinghame (Br. ship), 315 
Coldstream (Br. ship), 314 
Collins, E. K., 56, 101, 229 
Collins Line (steamships), 101, 

146 and footnote, 171, 214, 

Collyer, Thomas (shipbuilder), 

Colonists — French, 15; Popham, 

16; Plymouth, 16; Massachu- 
setts, 17; Russian, 60 
Colorado (ship), 312 
Colton, Rev. Walter, U.S.N., 

quoted, 78 
Columbia (packet), 123 
Columbia (ship), 23, 147 
Comet (clipper barque, 1852), 

104, 124, 184, 222, 227-8, 

232, 282 
Commodore Perry (ship, 1854- 

69), 257-8, 260-1 
Compania Maritima del Peru, 

No. 1 (ex-Twilight), 237 
Compania Maritima del Peru, 

No. 2 (ex-Telegraph), 237 
Companions, Companionways, 

342, 347 
Competitor (clipper, 1853- 

1900's), 240 
Composite Construction, 286 
Comstock Lode, The, 238 
Congress (early man-of-war), 

Conrad, Joseph, footnote, 312 
Constellation (U.S. frigate, 

1797), 176 
Constitution (U.S. frigate, 

r 797)> 26 and footnote 
Contest (clipper, 1852-63) — 

history of, 145-152; descrip- 
tion, footnote, 149; passages, 

149-52; 183, 222-3, 239 
Conversion, 337-9 
Coolies, Coolie Trade, 186 et 

Cooper, James Fenimore, 161 
Cope Line of Packets, 30 
Coppering, 345 
Coquette (barque, 1844), 4^ 
Cornelius Grinnell . (packet, 

1850), 81 
Corn Laws, British, 55 
Cortez, Hernan, 15 
Cotton Carriers, 32, 40 
Cotton Gin, Invention of, In- 
creases Trade, 24 
Coulnakyle (Br. clipper, 1862), 

Counter, 343 

Coup d'Etdt, The French, 162 
Courier (coffee trader, 1842- 

54), 79, 102 
Courser (medium clipper, 

1851-8), 184-5 
Courses, To Set or Take In, 

Cramp, William (shipbuilder), 

Crank Ship, Definition of, 325 
Creesy, Capt. Josiah Perkins, 

103, 114 et seq., 119-20 
Creesy, Mrs., 114 



Crest of the Wave (Br. clip- 
per, 1853), 278 

Crimean War — events which 
led up to, 208-9; 210, 219-20, 
226-7, 230, 2 79 

Crittenden, Col. W. S., 160 

Crocker, Capt., 82 

Crocker & Warren (shipown- 
ers), 166 

Cromwell, Parliament of, 65 

Cruiser, First Armed, footnote, 

Crutches, 341 
Crystal Palace (London), 137, 


Crystal Palace (New York), 
177, 200 

Cunard, (Sir) Samuel (Anglo- 
Canadian shipowner), 239 

Cunard Line (steamships), 56, 
146 and footnote, 179, 214 

Currier, John, Jr. (shipbuilder), 

Currier, William (shipbuilder), 


Currier & Townsend (ship- 
builders), 56, 192, 215 

Curtis, Capt. James, 41 

Curtis, James O. (shipbuilder), 
193, 218 

Curtis, Paul (shipbuilder), 87, 

Cushing, Capt., 216 

Cushing, Hon. Caleb, 45, 55 

Cutting, Francis B. (shipown- 
er), 215 

Cutty Sark (Br. composite 
clipper, 1869) — history of, 
306-16; description, 307 et 
seq.; passages, 310 et seq.; 
lines, 317; 327; spar dimen- 
sions, 364 

Cyane (U.S. sloop-of-war), 60 

Dana, Richard Henry, Jr., 201, 


Daniels, George B. (ship- 
owner), 193 

Daniel Webster (packet, 1850), 

Dashing Wave (medium clip- 
per, 1853-1920), 200, 240, 


Dauntless (extreme clipper, 

1852-3), 221 
David Brown (extreme clip- 
per, 1853-61), 218, 227-8 
David Crockett (clipper, 1853) 
— history of, 218-24; descrip- 
tion, 218; passages, 223-4, 
Davie, Capt., 278 
Dead-Flat, 319 
Dead-Rise, Definition of, 50 
Deadwood, 326, 328, 340 
Deane, Sir Anthony (naval ar- 
chitect), footnote, 49 
Deas, Capt. Robert, 297-8 
Decatur, Capt. Stephen, Jr., 29 
Deck Plan of Clipper Ship, 346 

et seq. 
Deck Plan of Packet Ship, 349 
Decks, Framing the Decks, 

Dee (Br. steamship), 201 
Defiance (extreme clipper, 

1852), 220, 230 
Delano (naval architect), 79 
Delaware (early man-of-war), 

Delia Walker (ship, 1840), 


Denmark, (.fa-Great Republic), 

Denny, Family of (Br. ship- 
builders), 308-9 

Denny Bros. (Br. shipbuilders), 

Dent & Co. (Br. merchants), 
275, 291 

Derby, Elias Hasket ("King"), 

Devonshire (packet), 94, 100 

Dickens, Charles, 56, 77, 138, 

Dictator (clipper, 1855-63), 

Digby, Thomas (early ship- 
builder), 16 
Displacement, Archimedean 

Law of, 323 
Doane, Capt. Justin, 164 
Doane, Capt. Seth, 150 
Dollard, Capt., 103 
Dolphin (U.S. schooner), 42 
Dom Pedro (Port, ship), 187 
Dom Pedro 1st (ex-Twilight), 


Donald McKay (clipper, 1855), 
244, 255, 257-8, 261 

Don Quixote (medium clip- 
per, 1853), 230-1 

Douglas, Jim (mate, Chal- 
lenge), 132 

Douglas, Stephen A., 225 

Douglass, Capt., 93 

Dovvman, Capt., 315 

Dowman, Mrs., 315 

Downes, Com. John, U.S.N., 

Drag, Definition of, 323 

Dramatic Line of Packets, 30, 
56, 101 

Dreadnought (clipper packet, 
1853-69) — history of, 213- 
17; dimensions, 215; pas- 
sages, 215-17 

Driver (clipper packet, 1854), 

2I 5 
Dry and Easy, How a Ship is 

Made, 325 
Dublin Jack (seaman, N.B. 

Palmer), 104 
Due d'Orlians (ex-Rob Roy), 

footnote, 308 
Dumarcsq, Capt. Philip, 74-5, 

Duncan, R. (Br. shipbuilder), 

Dunham & Co. (shipbuilders), 

Dunham's Nephew, Thomas, 

& Co. (shipowners), 223-4 
Dunn, Capt., 300 

Eagle (Br. ship), 243 
Eagle (extreme clipper, 1851), 
131, 227-8 

Eagle Wing (medium clipper, 
I 853-65), 218, 221, 230, 232 

Eclipse (extreme clipper, 1850- 
3)) 95-6, 184, 220 

Edwards, Smith (shipowner), 

Edwin Forrest (medium clip- 
per, 1853-60), 236 

Effingham (early man-of-war), 

El Bueno Suceso (ex-Flying 
Fish), 167 

Eldridge, Capt. Asa, 245 

Electro (ex-Witch of the 
Wave), 109 

Electric (medium clipper, 1853- 
72), 219 

Electric Spark (medium clip- 
per, 1855-69), 231 

Eliza (ketch), 148, 332 

Elizabeth Kimball (clipper, 
1853-73), 219 

Eliza Shaw (Br. composite 
clipper, 1863), 286 

Ellen Rodger (Br. clipper), 287, 

Eloisa (ship), 180 

Elwell & Jackson (shipbuild- 
ers), 95 

Emanuela (ex-Sunny South), 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 139 

Empress of China (ship, 1783), 


Empress of the Seas (clipper, 
1853-61), 192 

Endicott, John (Gov. Mass. un- 
der first charter), 17 

England, Capt., 299 

Enoch Train (Sovereign of the 
Seas), footnote, 174 

Enright, Capt. Anthony, 253, 

Enterprise (discovery ship), 

Entrance, Definition of, 320 
Essex (U.S. frigate, 1798), 148 
Eugenie, Empress of France, 

Europe (packet, 1833), 125 
Europe (steamship), 62 
Even Keel, Definition of, 323 
Excelsior (composite schooner, 

1850), 286 
Exports from U.S. — (1784-90), 

24; cotton exports, 24; (1846- 

7). 55; (1860-4), 239 
Expounder (medium clipper, 

1856-1906), 240 
Express (Br. warship), 162 

Falcon (Br. clipper), 282, 287, 

291, 297, 302 
Falcon (Br. sloop-of-war), 20 
Falconer, William, quoted, 265 
Famine, Irish Potato Crop, 55, 

80, 270 
Fanchon (ship), 92 
Faneuil Hall, Boston, ill, 159 
Fanning, Capt. William, 101 
Fast Passages to California — 

(1849), 62; (1850), 95; 

(1851), 145; (1852), 184; 

(1853), 222; (1854), 227; 



Fast Passages to Calif. (Cont'd) 
(1855), 230; (1856), 231-2; 
(1857), 236 

Fatherland (clipper, 1854), 228 

Fearless (extreme clipper, 1853- 
8o's), 200, 230 

Fernald & Pettigrew (shipbuild- 
ers), 193, 200 

Ferreira (ex-Cutty Sark), 315 

Ferreira & Co. (Port, shipown- 
ers), 315 

Fidelia (packet), 123 

Fiery Cross (Br. clipper, 
wrecked 1859), 278 

Fiery Cross (Br. clipper, i860), 
282, 291-4, 298 

Fincham, John (Br. ship- 
builder), quoted, 264, 266-7 

Fire in New York City, 1835, 43 

Fisher, Capt. (owner, shipping 
office), 129 

Fiske, Capt. John, 140 

Fitch, John, 23 

Fleetwood (medium clipper, 
1852-9), 183 

Fletcher, Capt. C. A., 69 

Flint, Peabody & Co. (ship- 
owners), 95 

Flogging, 127-8 

Floor, Definition of, 320; floors 
and half-floors, 340 

Florida (ex-Oreto, Confederate 
privateer, 1862-4), 239 

Flyaway (extreme clipper, 1853- 
7o's), 194, 227, 231 

Flying Arrow (medium clipper, 
1853), 222 

Flying Childers (medium clip- 
per, 1852), 183, 261 

Flying Cloud (extreme clipper, 
1851-75), 81, 103-4; history 
of, 111-120; description, 
113-5; passages, 115-20; lines, 
121; 122, 131, 145, 150, 
160-1, 163, 165, 173, 185, 
222, 227, 230, 282, 336; 
spar dimensions, 364 

Flying Dragon (Br. clipper), 

Flying Dragon (clipper, 1853- 
62), 199, 236 

Flying Dutchman (extreme 
clipper, 1852-8), 183-5; lines, 
190; 222-3, 2 36 

Flying Dutchman (phantom 
ship), 28 

Flying Fish (extreme clipper, 
1851), 93; history of, 159- 
168; 160; description, 161; 
passages, 162-7, 184-5, 222, 
230, 236; spar dimensions, 

Flying Mist (medium clipper, 

1856-62), 236 
Flying Scud (extreme clipper, 

1853), 219, 232 
Flying Spur (Br. clipper, i860), 

282, 291 
Foochow, China, 278, 290-1 
Forbes, Capt. James Nichol, 

248, 252-3, 257, 274 
Forbes, Capt. R. B., 329, 336 
Forbes, John M. (shipowner), 


Forbes Rig, 192, 329 
Forefoot, Definition of, 319 
Formosa (Br. clipper), 278 
Forrest, Edwin (actor), 197 
Forrest, Mrs. (actress), 138 
Forward Ho (Br. composite 

clipper, 1867), 298, 303 
Foster, Joshua T. (shipbuilder), 

Foster & Co. (merchants), 291 
Fox Sisters, The, 153 
Frames or Ribs of a Ship, 340 
France, U. S. Trade with, 62 
Francis, Archduke of Austria, 

Assassination of, 315 
Francis (brig), 101 
Francis, John (seaman, Cutty 

Sark), 312 
Fraser, Capt. George, 62, 64 
Fraunces's Tavern, 22 
Fremont, Capt., 60 
French Decree of 1787, 24 
French Design, Influence of, on 

Shipbuilding, footnote, 26; 

footnote, 49 
Friar Tuck (Br. clipper, 1857), 

2 ? 8 
Frigate Bird (clipper, 1853), 


Fugitive Slave Law, ill, 159, 

Funch & Meinke (ship bro- 
kers), 175 

Furling Sail, 357-8 

Fussell & Co. (merchants), 291 

Futtocks, 340 

Gallentine (Dan. brig), 202 
Galley, Galley Funnel, 348 
Game Cock, (extreme clipper, 
1850-80) — history of, 86- 
91; description, 87; passages, 
87-91, 150, 193, 197; spar 
dimensions, 364 
Ganges (Br. ship), 297 
Garbett, Capt., R.N., quoted, 

Garrick. (packet, 1836), 101 
Garrison, William Lloyd, 139 
Gaspee, or Gaspee (Br. reve- 
nue-cutter), 22 
Gates, Capt. Gurdon, 237 
Gates & Co. (shipowners), 237 
Gauntlet (Br. iron clipper), 179 
Gauntlet (clipper, 1853-78), 

Gazelle (extreme clipper, 1851), 
103; lines, 105; 124, 162, 
Gee, Dr., 260 
General Birch (Norw. barque), 

General Pickering (privateer), 

21, 148 
Georgia (Confederate privateer), 

Gibb, Livingston & Co. (Br. 
merchants and shipowners), 
Gibbs, Mr. (mate, Flying 

Cloud), 118 
GifTord, Capt. Alden, 205 
Giles, Lawrence, & Co. (ship- 
owners), 223 

Gilman & Co. (merchants), 

Girard, Stephen (merchant and 
shipowner), 25 

Glidden & Williams (shipown- 
ers), 95, 106-7 

Glynn, Capt., 94 

Godeffroy and Son (G. ship- 
owners), 180 

Gold in Australia — discovery 
of, 1850, at Clunes, 35, 136, 
140, 159, 163; discovery of, 
1851, at Summerhill Creek, 
242 et seq., 260-1 

Gold in California — discovery 
of, 1848, 35, 60-1, 69; rush 
of 1849, 70 et seq., 77-8, 
122, 234 et seq. 

Gold in Colorado, 171 

Golden (Br. ship), 302 

Golden City (ex-Challenge), 


Golden City (extreme clipper, 
1852-79), 183, 227 

Golden Eagle (extreme clipper, 
1852-63), 230, 239 

Golden Fleece (medium clip- 
per, 1852-4), 183, 228 

Golden Gate (extreme clipper, 
1851-6), 222, 230, 282 

Golden Light (medium clip- 
per, 1853), 192, 220 

Golden South (ex-Flying Child- 
ers), 261 

Golden West (extreme clipper, 
1852), 183, 232 

Goodwin, I. (Gov. N. H.), 138 

Gordon, Capt. Joseph, 227 

Gorham, Capt. Francis, 188 

Gorsuch, Edward (slave own- 
er), 160 

Gorsuch Case, The, 160 

Governor Morton (medium 
clipper, 1851-77), 230 

Gower, Richard Hall (Br. naval 
architect), 266 

Gray, Capt. Robert, 148 and 

Gray, Mrs. Martha, footnote, 

Gray, William (Boston mer- 
chant), 24, 148 

Great Britain (Br. steamship, 
1845), 179 

Great Eastern (Br. steamship, 
1858), 239 

Great Republic (extreme clip- 
per, 1853-72), 202; history 
of, 204-211; description, 204 
et seq.; destroyed by fire, 
209; rebuilt, 209-10; pasr 
sages, 210-11; lines, 212; 213, 
218, 232, 236, 258; spar di- 
mensions (original and re- 
built), 364; log, 368 

Great Tasmania (ship, 1854), 
257-8; "The Great Tas- 
mania's Cargo," 259, 260 

Great Western (Br. steamship, 
1838), 44 

Green, R. & H. (Br. shipbuild- 
ers), 172 

Green, Richard (Br. ship- 
builder), 141-2 



Greenman & Company (ship- 
builders), 218 
Gregory, Capt. Michael, 229 
Grey Eagle (ship, 1848), 185 
Grey Feather (clipper, 1850), 

90-1, 95-6 
Greyhound (Br. man-of-war), 

Griffiths, John Willis (naval ar- 
chitect), 39, 49 and foot- 
note, 51; footnote, 53; 59, 79, 
106, 122, 266 
Grinnell, Minturn & Co. (ship- 
owners), 106-7, Il 3> II 5» 
Griping or Resistance, 347 
Griswold, Capt. Robert, 31, 

Griswold, N. L. & G. G. (ship- 
owners), 45, 124, 218 
Grog Ration, The, 128 
Guinevere (Br. clipper, 1862-6), 

294, 297 
Guthrie's Grammar, 147 
Guy Mannering (packet, 1849), 

Haines, Mr. (mate, N. B. Pal- 
mer), 103 

Hall, Alexander & Co. (Br. 
shipbuilders), 268-9, 273 

Hall, Henry, quoted, 50-1, 53, 

329. 335-9 
Hall, Samuel (shipbuilder), 46, 

73-4, 86-7, 164, 183, 200 
Hallowe'en (Br. iron clipper, 

1870-87), 307, 311 
Hamburg, Occupation of, 159 
Hamilton, Capt. Joseph, 96 
Hancock, (early man-of-war), 

Handiness, How a Ship is 

given, 327 
Handy & Everett (shipowners), 

Hanscom, Samuel, Jr. (ship- 
builder), 136-8 
Haraden, Jonathan, 21, 148 
Hargreaves, Edward Hammond, 


Harrison, Thomas (Br. ship- 
owner), 253, 261 

Haskell, Capt. (shipowner), 

Hatch, Capt. Freeman, 149-50 

Hatches, 347-8 

Havannah (H.M. frigate), 277 

Havre (packet), 123 

Hawaiian Islands, Deeding of, 
to U.S., 159 

Hawse-holes, 342 

"Hawser Martingale," quoted, 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 138 

Hayden & Cudworth (ship- 
builders), 192 

Hayes, Capt. William, 56-7 

Hayes, Kate (singer), 197 

Heard, Augustine, & Co. (Am. 
merchants and shipowners), 

Hedge & Co. (merchants), 291 

Heel of a Ship, Definition of, 

Helena (China packet, 1841- 

57). 35, 45-6, 74-5, 124 
Helena Sloman (G. steamer), 


Helicon (barque, 1849), 80 

Hellyer, F. (wood-carver), 310 

Helvetius (ship), 25 

Hemisphere (ship), 93 

Hendrickson, Capt. (discoverer 
of Schuylkill River), 16 

Herald of the Morning (me- 
dium clipper, 1853-90's), 
227, 230, 240 

Hermann (ex-Twilight), 237 

Hero (sloop), 100-1 

Hersilia (brig), 100-1 

Hibernia (packet, 1830), 101 

Higham, Capt. James A., 

Highflyer (medium clipper, 
i853-55), 192, 215, 231 

Hindoo (barque), 93 

Hogging, 325 

Holland, Effect of Gold Discov- 
eries on, 234 

Holiday, Wise & Co. (mer- 
chants), 291 

Hollis, Capt. Lewis G., 87 

Homestead Act, The, 238 

Hong Merchants, 45 

Hongkong, Island of, 275, 279 
et seq. 

Hood, James M. (shipbuilder), 

Hood, Walter, & Co. (Br. ship- 
builders), 243-4, 3 01 

Horatio (ship, 1833), 82, 102, 

Hornet (extreme clipper, 1851- 
66), 118, 222-3 

Houqua (China packet, 1844), 
46, 69, 100, 102-3 

Hovey, Capt. Henry R., 94 

Howes, George, & Co. (ship- 
owners), 196, 223 

Howes, Capt. W. F., 195 

Howes, Capt. (William) Fred- 
erick, 192 

Howes Rig, 192, 258 

Howland, Capt. William, 95, 
102, 107 

Howland & Aspinwall (ship- 
owners), 44, 49, 62-3, 125 

Huckins, Capt. James, 193 

Huckins, James, & Sons (ship- 
owners), 148 

Hudson's Bay Company, 299 

Hull, Parts of a Ship's, 319- 

Hull, Isaac, 28 

Hunt, Captain, 299 

Hunt, Thomas & Co. (ship- 
owners), 133 

Huntsville (packet, 1831), 101 

Hurricane (extreme clipper, 
1851-70*5), 98, 185, 228, 230, 

Hussey, Capt. Samuel B., 83, 

Hydra (Br. frigate), 267 

Hyer, Mr. John (pilot), 59 

Illinois (packet, 1826), 125 
Immersed Body, A Ship's, 323 

Immigrants, 40, 154 et seq. 

Imports into U.S. — (1784-90), 
24; (1820-40), 43; (1847), 
59; (1860-4), 235, 239 

Impressment, 25-6 

Indemnity, Payments of, 25 

Independence (packet, 1834), 

Indians, 17-8 

Indraghiri (Br. steamship), 315 

Ino (extreme clipper, 1851), 

International Exhibition (Lon- 
don), 136 et seq. 

Invincible (extreme clipper, 
1851-67), 98, 124, 222 

Irving, Washington, 139 

Irwin, Commander, 266 

Isaac Webb (packet), 93, 123 

Isaac Wright (packet), 123, 

Isabelita Hyne (clipper barque, 
1846-56), 95-6 

Ismaiil Pasha (Khedive of 
Egypt), 37 

Ismay, Imrie & Co., 246 

Ivanhoe (packet), 123 

Jackman, George W. (ship- 
builder), 199 

Jackson, Robert E. (ship- 
builder), 192, 244 

Jacob Bell (extreme clipper, 
1852-63), 102, 239 

James II, Br. King, footnote, 

fames Baines (extreme clipper, 
1854-8), 180, 228, 230; his- 
tory of, 255-62; description, 
256-7; passages, 256-8, 261; 
lines, 263; 302; spar dimen- 
sions, 364 

Jamesina (Br. opium clipper), 

fames Monroe (ship, Pioneer 
Ocean Liner, 1817-50), 30, 

Japan (ex-Great Tasmania), 260 
Jardine, Matheson & Co. (Br. 
shipowners and merchants), 
186, 268, 270, 273, 275, 280, 
291, 293 
Jefferson, Thomas, 23 
Jenkins, Hanging of, 97 
Jenny hind (packet, 1848), 80, 

Jimmie Greens (sails), 359 
John Bertram (extreme clipper, 
1850-83) — history of, 92-8; 
description, 95; passages, 
95-8, 107, 147, 151, 171, 
184, 193, 230; spar dimen- 
sions, 364 
John Bunyan (Br. ship, 1849), 

John E. Davidson (pilot boat), 

John Gilpin (medium clipper, 

1852-8), 164-5, 183-4, 222 
John Land (medium clipper, 

1853-64), 148, 183, 192, 

John o' Gaunt (Br. ship), 270 
John Q. Adams (ship), 93 



John R. Skjddy (packet, 1844- 
50), 80 

Johnson, Capt. Joseph P., 184 

Johnson, Peter (seaman, Ther- 
mopylae), 302 

Jones, Capt., 189 

Jones, Capt. Henry, 253 

Jones, (John) Paul, 20 

Jordon, John (inventor Jordon 
system composite construc- 
tion), 286 

Joseph Walter (ship), 209 

Joshua Bates (packet, 1844-72), 
80, 104 

Juliet (schooner-yacht), 102 

Kaisow (Br. composite clipper, 

1869-1890), 297 
Kansas-Nebraska Bill, The, 225 
Kate Carnie (Br. clipper, 1855), 

286, 297 
Kate Hooper (medium clipper, 

1852-73), 188 
Kathay (extreme clipper, 1853- 

67), 200, 231, 236 
Kavanagh, Julia (author), 138 
Keay, Capt., 287, 298 
Keel, Ship's, 319, 339-40 
Keelson, 341 

Keenan, Mr. (U.S. consul), 280 
Kemball, Capt., 302 
Kennard & Williamson (ship- 
builders), 41 
Kenney, Capt., 133 
Kilhy (barque), 222 
Kipping, Robert, quoted, 330 
Kirkby, Capt., 245 
Kjalarness (Norse name, Cape 

Cod), 15 
Know-nothing Party, The, 226, 

Kossuth, Louis, 163, 170, 220 

Lady Pierce (ship), 279 

Lagada (whaleship), 93 

Laguerre (Fr. admiral), 279 

Lahloo (Br. composite clipper, 
1867-72) — history of, 297-9; 
passages, 298-9, 302 

hammermuir (Br. clipper, 
1856), 277-8, 307 

Land, Capt. John, 54-5, 74, 125, 

Land Speculation, 43 

Lane, Capt. George E., 199 

Lang, Capt., 64 

Larkin, Thomas O. (U.S. naval 
agent), 62 

La Superior, or La Superieur 
(Fr. privateer), 27-8 

Launching of a Ship, Descrip- 
tion of the, 13-4, 73-4, 345 

Laurie & Co. (Br. shipbuild- 
ers), 295 

Lawrence, Capt. James, 28 

Laying Down, 337 

Lednder (Br. composite clip- 
per, 1867-95) — history of, 
289-95, 292; description, 
2 9,4-5; passages, 295; lines, 
29*6; 301-2 

Lee (sthbtfaer), 20 

Leewardtiness, Definition of, 
326, 328 

Lendholm, Capt. Frederick, 95, 

Lengthening Pieces, 340 

Lenthall, John (naval archi- 
tect), 79 

Lesseps, Ferdinand dc, 306 

Letters-of-marque, 20-1 

Lexington (with Com. Perry), 

Libby, McNeil & Libby (ship- 
owners), 240 

Light Brigade (ex-Ocean Tele- 
graph), 261 

Light Displacement of a Ship, 


Lightjoot (extreme clipper, 
1853-5), 231 

Light Line of Ship, 323 

Lightning (extreme clipper, 
1854-69), 228, 244; history 
of, 248-53; description, 249- 
52; passages, 252-3; lines, 
254; 255, 257-8, 261, 274; 
spar dimensions, 364 

Limeburner, Capt. Joseph, 210, 
236, 368 

Lincoln (brig), 93 

Lincoln, Abraham, 139 

Lind, Jenny, 136, 138-9, 170, 

Lindsay, W. S., quoted, 142, 
154; footnote, 174; 210, 293, 
303-4, 308-9 

Lindsay & Co. (Br. merchants 
and shipowners), 291 

Linnell, Capt. Eben, 221 

Linton, Hercules (Br. naval ar- 
chitect and shipbuilder), 307 

Live Yankee (extreme clipper, 
1853-61), 219 

Living Age (clipper, 1848-54), 

Load Displacement of Ship, 323 

Load Waterline, 323 

London (packet), 123 

Longfellow, Henry Words- 
worth, 113 

Lookout (clipper, 1853), 218 

Lopez, Gen. Narciso, Expedition 
of, 159-60 

Lopez, Martin, 15 

Lord of the Isles (Br. iron clip- 
per, 1853-62), 278, 287 

Loring, Capt. Bailey, 149 

Lovell, Capt., 151 

Low, A. A., & Brother (ship- 
owners), 45, 68-9, 73, 100, 
102; footnote, 149; 209, 211 

Low, Captain, 222 

Low, Captain Charles Porter, 

Low, Mrs. Charles Porter, 104 

Low, William H., 101 

Lowber, Capt, 83 

Lubbock, Basil, 133 

Liibeck, Occupation of, 159 

Lucy Ellen (barque), 93 

Lyde, Capt, 216 

L.Z. (packet), 80 

MacCunn, James (Br. ship- 
owner), 293-4, 303 
MacDougal, Capt., 293-4 
Macgregor (Br. tug), 311 

Machias, Seamen of, 20 

Macintyre, L. H., & Co. (Br. 
shipbuilders), 286 

Mackay, Alexander, quoted, 48 

Mackinnon, Capt., R.N., quoted, 

Madison, James, 23 

Magill, Capt., 203 

Magoun, T, & Son, 90 

Majestic (Br. mercantile cruis- 
er, 1889), 246 

Malay (clipper, 1852-91), 240 

Mallory, Charles (shipbuilder), 
200, 237 

Mandarin (extreme clipper, 
1850-64), 73, 232 

Manger Board, Manger Scup- 
pers, 342 

Manhattan — early shipbuilding, 
16; early trade with New 
England, 17 

Mann, Horace, 112 

Marco Polo (Br. ship 1850- 
1883), 248-9; sketch, 254; 

Mare (Br. shipbuilder), 52 
Maresca, Mme. (Ital. ship- 
owner), 300 
Margaretta (H.M. sloop), 20 
Margarida (ex-Syren), 241 
Maria di Ampero (ex-Cutty 

Sar\), 315 
Maria Freeman (brig), 221 
Marion Macintyre (composite 

barque, 1851), 286 
Maritima Company of Peru, 237 
Marjory (Br. steamship, 18 14), 

308 and footnote 
Marshall, Capt., 57 
Marshall, Capt. Charles H., 125 
Marshall, James Wilson, 35, 

60-1, 77, 242 
Marshall & Eridge (Br. ship- 
owners), 243 
Martin, Capt. Joseph, 44 
Mary and Helen (schooner), 93 
Mary L. Sutton (medium clip- 
per, 1856-64), 231 
Mary Whitridge (medium clip- 
per, 1855-1902), 102, 230, 
Mason, John W. (wood-carver), 

Mason, John Y., 226 
Mast and Spar Dimensions of 

Specific Clippers, 364 
Masting and Rigging, 349 

et seq. 
Masts, Placing of, 329-30; size 
<*£> 33 0-1 ; names and parts of, 
349 et seq. 
Mdtchldss (clipper, 1853-7), 

199, 227 
Mather, Capt. Samuel W., 143 
Matheson, Sir James (Br. ship- 
owner), 269 et seq. 
Maury, Lieut. Matthew Fon- 
taine, 94, 165, 176 
May, Rev. Samuel, 161 
Mayflower (steam tug), 162 
Mayhew, Capt. P.N., 217 
MaynarcJ, Capt., 21 
Mazzini, Guiseppe (Italian pa- 
triot), 220 



McCerran, Capt., 220 
M'Culloch, J. R., quoted, 30-32, 

McDonald, Ronald, 93 
McDonnell, Capt. Charles, 257 
McHenry, Jerry (runaway 

slave), 161 
McKay, Donald (shipbuilder), 

75, 79 et seq., 83, 122-3, 153, 

159-60, 173, 174 and foot- 
note, 175-6, 178-9, 182-4, 

192-4, 197, 204, 207, 209- 

10, 218, 244, 249, 255, 258, 

326, 336, 338-9 
McKay, Capt. Lauchlan, 176 

et seq., 207, ij2 
McKay, Mrs. Lauchlan, 178 
McKim, Hon. Isaac (ship- 
owner), 41, 44 
McKinnon, Capt., 286 
McLaughlin, Capt. Daniel, 95 
McLean, Capt., 294 
McLean, Duncan, quoted, 113, 

McMichael, Capt. William, 94 
Mechanic (brig), 92 
Medway (Br. steamship), 173 
Meinke, Andrew F. (ship 

broker), 175 
Melville, Herman (author), 138, 

Memnon (clipper, 1847-51), 

62, 82, 90, 161, 276-8 
Meng, Lowe Kong (shipowner), 

Mentschikov, Prince Alexander, 

Merchantmen, British, Captured 

During War of 1812, 26 
Merchants Trading Company, 

of Liverpool, 211 
Merriam, Horace (shipbuilder), 

Merrill, Orlando, 23, 332 
Merry, Master Walter (Colonial 

shipbuilder), 17 
Messenger (extreme clipper, 

1852-79). i8_3, 227 
Metcalf & Norris (shipbuilders), 

Meteor (medium clipper, 1852), 

90-1, 148, 150, 183 
Mexican War, 55, 60-1, 72 
Midship Section, The, 319 
Millet, Capt. J. Hardy, 106, 108 
Milward, Capt., 245 
Min (Br. clipper, 1861), 282, 

Minna (opium clipper), 106 
Minuit, Peter (Governor of 

Manhattan), 17 
Mirosldv (ex-Young America), 

Mischief (extreme clipper, 1853- 

70's), 192 
Mississippi (with Com. Perry), 

Missouri Compromise, The, 225 
Models, Ship, 23, 321, 332-3; 

taking off the lines of, 333 
Monetary Conditions, American, 

to 1849-50, 77-8 
Montau\ (China packet, 1844), 

46, 94, 124 

Montesquieu (ship), 25 
Montez, Lola (dancer), 170, 

Montezuma (packet), 123 
Montgomery (early man-of- 
war), 22 
Moodie, Capt., 310-1 
Moodie, Mrs., 306 
Moonrakers (sails), 359 
Moore, Capt. E., 313 
Moore, Capt. F. W., 311 
Morgan, E. (shipowner), 215 
Mormons, 61-2 
Morning Light, of Philadelphia 

(extreme clipper, 1853-63), 

200, 239 
Morning Light, of Portsmouth, 

N. H. (extreme clipper, 

1853), 200, 261 
Morning Star (clipper, 1853-90), 

218, 236 
Moscoco, Luis de, 15 
Moses Wheeler (trader, 1850), 

Mosquito (iron cutter), 52 
Moulding, Moulds, 335, 337, 

Miiller, Capt., 180 
Mutiny on Board the Warrior, 

Mystery (clipper, 1853-70's), 

192, 228 

Nancy (Br. brigantine), 20 
Napier, David (Br. engineer), 

56; footnote, 308 
Napier, Johnson & Company 

(shipowners), 229 
Napoleon (brig.), 221 
Napoleon, Louis (Napoleon III 

of France), 61, 162, 170, 208, 

Napoleon Carnavero (ex- 

White Falcon), 188 
Napoleonic Wars, 24-5 
Narvaez, Panfilo de, 15 
Natchez (packet, 1831), 35, 63, 


Naval Architecture, Rudiments 
of, 323 et seq. 

Navigation Acts, British, 32, 65 
et seq., 68, 122, 268 

Navy, U.S. — beginning of, 20; 
22; (1794), 23; (1812), 26, 
29; flogging in the, 127-8 

Navy Yard, Brooklyn, 79, 200 

N.B. Palmer (extreme clipper, 
1851-92) — history of, 99-104; 
description, 100; 102; pas- 
sages, 103-4; 117-8, 137, 145, 
183, 193, 199, 227, 240 

Neptune's Car (dipper, 1853), 
185-6, 193-4 

New Bedford, Seamen of, 20, 93 

Newfoundland, Colonial Trade 
with, 18-9 

New World (packet, 1846-80*5), 

New World (river steamer), 56 

Niagara (U.S. steam frigate), 

Niantic (Br. ship), 96 

Niantic Hotel, San Francisco, 

Nicholas I, Czar of Russia, 208, 
219-20, 230 

Nickels, Rev. C. M., quoted, 

Nickels, Capt. Edward C, 93, 
162, 165-6, 184 

Nicuesa, Diego de, 15 

Nieuwe Nederlands (built 
1631), 17 

Nightingale (extreme clipper, 
1851-93) — history of, 136-43; 
description, 137; passages, 
139-43; lines, 144; 161, 193, 
222, 230, 240; spar dimen- 
sions, 364 

Nimrod (barque), 223 

Nonpareil (medium clipper, 
1853-71), 219 

Norma (Br. clipper), 151, 278 

Northerner (steamship), 62, 125 

Northern Light (medium clip- 
per, 1851-62), 109; history 
of, 145-51; description, 147-8; 
passages, 148-51; 183, 185, 

Northfleet (Br. clipper, 1853- 
73). 278 

North Wind (extreme clipper, 
1853), 150, 193 

Nor' Wester (clipper, 1854-73), 

Nouveau St. Jacques (French 
brig), 151 

Nova Scotia, Colonial Trade 
with, 18-9 

Novelty Baking Company, Fire 
at the, 209 

Nye, Capt. Ezra, 31 

Oceanic (Br. steamship), 2,6 
Ocean Monarch (packet, 1847- 

8), 62, 80 
Ocean Queen (packet), 100 
Ocean Telegraph (extreme clip- 
per, 1854), 211, 230, 261 
Odd Fellow (barque), 176 
Ogden, David G. (shipowner), 


Olano, Lope de, 15 

Old Ironsides (locomotive), 56 

Olympia (ship), 228 

Omar Pasha (Moslem Com- 
mander), 208 

Olyphant & Co. (Am. mer- 
chants and shipowners), 291 

Oneida (China packet, 1841), 

Onrust (built 1613-4), 16 

Onward (medium clipper, 
1852), 232 

Opium Running, 33-4 

Opium War, The, 45 

Orientd (dipper, 1849-54), his- 
tory of, 65-9; description, 
68-9; passages, 67-9; 75, 
82-3, 99-100, 102, 10S, 137, 
171, 183, 222, 228, 268-9, 

Osprey (Br. sloop-of-war), 266 
Ostend Manifesto, The, 226 

Pacific (steamship), 146, 245 
Pacific Mail Steamship Co., 195, 
199, 216 



Packet Sailing Ships, 29 et seq., 

39-40, 48, 123-5, 153 et seq., 

213 et seq. 
Page & Allen (shipbuilders), 193 
Paget, Capt., 267 
Painting the Ship, 345, 347 
Palmer, Capt. Alexander, 103 
Palmer, Capt. Nathaniel Brown, 

46, 67, 69, 100 et seq., 103, 

162, 209 
Palmer, Capt. Theodore, 67, 103 
Palmer (schooner yacht), 102 
Palmer Land, Antarctic, 101 
Pampero (extreme clipper) 

1853), 200, 227 
Pampero (steamer), 160 
Panama (China packet, 1844), 

46, 124 
Panama (extreme clipper, 1853), 

218, 230 
Panics, 33; (1837), 43-4, 48, 

55; (1854), 226-7; (1857), 

Pardies, Father (author, Traite 

de Statique, 1673), 264 
Parker, Theodore, 225 
Parliament (packet, 1849), 80 
Patten, Capt. Joshua A., 186 
Pattersons, of Baltimore, 25 
Paul Jones (China packet, 

1842), 101 
Paxton, (Sir) Joseph, 137 
Peabody, Alfred (shipowner), 

Pedro Nunes (ex-Thermopylae), 

Pennsylvania (U.S. warship), 

Pepys, Samuel — footnote, 49; 

173. 332 
Pequina Camisola (ex-Cutty 

Sark), 315 
Perry, Oliver H., 28 
Perry, Matthew Calbraith, 170, 

200, 279 
Peter, Master Hugh (Colonial 

shipbuilder), 17 
Peter I, the Great, Czar of 

Russia, 208 
Pett, Family of (shipbuilders), 

16, 173-4 
Phantom (medium clipper, 

1852-62), 222-3 
Phillips, Wendell, 139, 225 
Phoebe (Br. man-of-war), 148 
Phoenician (Br. clipper barque, 

1846), 243-4; sketch, 247 
Pickett, William (shipbuilder), 

Pickman, William D. (ship- 
owner), 87 
Pierce, Franklin, U.S. President, 

170, 200 
Pigot (Br. schooner), 20 
Pilkington, Wilson & Chambers 

(Br. shipowners), 244 
Pilot Boats, 26-8, 40 
Pirates, 25, 34 
Pitts, Capt., 133 
Plans, Clipper and Frigate, 

compared, 322 
Plans, How to Read, 320 et seq. 
Piatt, William, & Son (ship- 
owners), footnote, 149 

Pliability, Advantages of, 283 

et seq. 
Plymouth (whaleship), 93 
Plymouth Rock, (packet, 1849), 

Poe, Edgar Allan, 139 
Pollio, P., & Co. (Ital. ship- 
owners), 300 
Polynesia (medium clipper, 

1852-62), 183, 227 
Pook, Samuel Harte (naval 

architect), 73-4, 79, 87, 122, 

147, 192, 200, 244 
Port (left side of ship), 347 
Portugal, U.S. trade with, 24 
Potomac (U.S. frigate), 101 
Powhatan (with Com. Perry), 

Preble (U.S. ship), 93 
Prescott House, 201 
President (Br. steamship, lost 

1841), 56 
Pride of America (clipper, 

1853-83), 228 
Pride of the Ocean (clipper, 

1853), 228 
Pride of the Sea (clipper 

1853-4), 228 
Privateers, 20-1, 25 et seq., 39 
Prometheus (steamship), 162 
Prometheus Affair, The, 162 
Providence (early man-of-war), 

Pumps, Pump Wells, Pump 

Dales, 344, 347 
Punjaub (re-named The Tweed), 


Queen of Clippers (clipper, 
1853), 98, 192, 194 

Queen of the Seas (clipper, 
1852-60), 150, 183 

Queen of the South (ex-Morn- 
ing Light), 261 

Rabbet, 341 

Race Horse (clipper barque, 
1850), 78, 95 

Racer (clipper packet, 1851-6), 

Rachel (tragedienne), 219 

Railway Train Across Isthmus 
of Panama, First, 229-30 

Rainbow (clipper, 1845-8), 14, 
35. 39-40. history of, 48-57; 
description, 51 et seq., pas- 
sages, 54-7; lines, 58; 63, 74, 
81, 229, 266, 307, 321 

Ralegh, Sir Walter, quoted, 265 

Raleigh (early man-of-war), 22 

Rambler (ship), 94 

Randolph (early man-of-war), 

Ranlett, Capt. Charles, 75, 365-7 

Ratlines, 352 

Rattler (extreme clipper, 1852- 
89), 240 

Raven (extreme clipper, 1851- 
70's), 145 

Raynes, George (shipbuilder), 
106 et seq., 109, 193 

R. B. Forbes (steam tug), 74, 
81, 106, 208 

Rebellion, Chinese, 159 

Record Passages — (1851), 146-7; 
(1852), 185; (1853), 222-3; 
(1854), 227-8; (1855), 230; 
(1856), 231-2; (1857), 236-7 

Red Cross Line of Packets, 80, 
192, 215 

Red Gauntlet (clipper, 1853-63), 

Red Jacket (extreme clipper, 
1853). 215, 219, 227, 231; 
history of, 241-6; description, 
244-5; passages, 245; lines, 
247; 252 

Red Rover (clipper, 1852-72), 
230-1, 261 

Red Star Line of Packets, 30 

Reefing Sail — reef lines, 356; 
reefing, 357 

Reford, Mr. (Can. Shipowner), 

Reid, Capt. Samuel, 245 

Reindeer (ship, 1849-59), 80 

Rennie, John (Br. naval archi- 
tect), 310 

Reporter (medium clipper, 
1853-62), 231, 236 

Republic (Br. steamship), 246 

Republican Party, The, 226 

Resolute (clipper, 1853-70's), 

Revenue-cutter Service, Organi- 
zation of, 23 and footnote 

Revolution, American, 19 et 
seq., 34, 66, 245 

Revolution, French (1848), 61-2 

Reynard, Capt., 119 

Reynolds, J. N., 101 

Ribband Lines, 337 

Rice Milling Company, of Mon- 
treal, 304 

Richardson, Capt. Josiah, 82 

Ricketts, of New Jersey, 21 

Rigging — (running), 347"8, 

353. 355 et seq., 358; (stand- 
ing), 347. 352-3; (plan), 

Ringdove (Br. sloop-of-war), 28 

Ringleader (clipper, 1853-63), 

Ringtails (sails), 358 

Rio de Janeiro, 33, 87 et seq. 

Ritchie, Capt. A. A., 132 

Robert Ramsey (ship), 93 

Robertson, Capt. Robert, 270 

Robin Hood (Br. clipper, 1856), 

Robinson, Capt. Richard, 293-4 

Rob Roy (Br. steamship, 1818), 
308 and footnote 

Rockwell, Mr. (mate, Dread- 
nought), 216 

Rodger, Capt. (Br. commander 
and shipowner), 286-7, 298 

Rodman (brig), 92 

Rogers, Richard S. (ship- 
owner), 87 

Rogers, Capt. William C, 87 

Romance of the Seas (extreme 
clipper, 1853-63), 218, 227 

Roosevelt & Joyce (shipbuild- 
ers), 218 

Rosenfeld, John (successor to 
George Howes & Co.), 223 



Rousseau (ship), 25 

Roux, Francois (marine artist), 

Rover's Bride (extreme clipper, 

1853), 230 
Royal Yacht Squadron Cup, 137 
Rudder, Proportions for a, 327, 

Rumsey, James, 23 
Run, Definition of, 320 
Russell, J. Scott (Prof. Natural 

Philosophy and one of chief 

founders Institution of Naval 

Architects), 52, 239 
Russell & Co. (Am. merchants), 

68-9, 101, 291 

Sagging, 325 

Sagoyewatha (Indian chief), 


Sail, Balance of, 328 

Sail, Proportion and Distribu- 
tion of, 329 

Sailing Ship Rates, 31-2, 213-4 

Sailing Ships, Types of, 354 

Sails Commonly Set by the 
Wind, 362-3. 

Sails, Names and parts of — 
(square-sail plan), 355; (run- 
ning gear for square sails), 
355 et seq.; (reefing sails), 
357; (furling sails), 357; 
(stowing sails), 358; (run- 
ning gear for staystails), 
358; (extra sails), 358-9; 
(fore-and-aft sail plan), 

St. George (packet, 1843), 80 

St. Vincent, John, Earl of 
(first Lord of the Admiralty), 

Sampson & Tappan (ship- 
owners), 82, 138, 142-3, 161, 
184, 188-9 

Samuel Russell (clipper, 1847- 
70), 69, 95, 100, 102-4, I2 3> 

Samuels, Capt. Samuel, 213-4, 

Sane, M. (Baron), footnote, 26 

San Francisco (extreme clipper, 
1853-4), 227-8 

San Francisco (steamer), Tragic 
Loss of, 221-2 

Saratoga (U.S. sloop-of-war), 


Savannah (pioneer Transatlantic 
steamship), 29 

Schmidt, William F. (G. ship- 
owner), 98 

Schomberg (Br. clipper, 1855), 

Scott, John, & Co. (Br. ship- 
builders), 278 

Scott & Linton (Br. ship- 
builders), 307 

Scottish Maid (Br. schooner), 

Scuppers, 342 

Scuttles, 342 

Seaman (clipper, 1850-5), 145, 
i47» 231 

Seaman's Bride (extreme clip- 
per, 1 851), 98, 230 

Seamen, American — imprisoned 
in Japan, 93-4; at Valparaiso, 
96; conditions of, 115, 126 
et seq.; mode of shipping, 
128 et seq.; advance wages 
to, 130 et seq.; Jenny Lind's 
donations to, 139 

Seamen's Aid Society, Boston, 

Sea Nymph (clipper, 1850-60), 

Sears, E. & R. W. (shipowners), 

Sea Serpent (extreme clipper, 
1850-90's), 78, 83, 95-6; 
description, 107; 193, 222, 

Seasoning Timber, 336 

Sea Witch (clipper, 1846-56) — 
history of, and passages, 59- 
64; description, 63; 67, 80, 
83. 95. 103, 123-5, 171. 
184; spar dimensions, 

Seccomb & Taylor (ship- 
owners), 244 

Selby, Mr. (mate, Cutty Sar/(), 

Seldes, Gilbert, footnote, 153 

Semons (seaman, N.B. Palmer), 

Sepoy Mutiny, The, 231, 235, 
253. 258 

Serica (Br. clipper, 1863-72), 
282, 292, 297-8, 302 

Seward and Capel (Br. en- 
gineers), 173 

Seymour, Sir Michael (Br. ad- 
miral), 280 

Shadrach (runaway slave), III, 

Shanghai, China, 275, 279 et 
seq., 289-90 

Shaw, Capt., 287 

Shaw, Maxton & Co. (Br. ship- 
owners), 287, 297-8 

Sheer Line, 322 

Sheffield, Capt. J. P., 100 

Sheffield, Lord, 67 

Shipbuilding, Rudiments of the 
Art of, 334 et seq. 

Shipbuilding in America — 
(nth Century), 15; (16th 
Century), 15-6; (17th Cen- 
tury), 16 et seq.; (18th Cen- 
tury), 19 et seq.; (19th 
Century), 25 et seq.; (1850), 
73i 78; competition between 
N. Y. and Boston, 81,- 112; 
(1851), 122-3; (1852), 173. 
182-3; (1853), 191-3; 218-9; 
(1854), 219, 228; (1855), 
230; (1851-55), 235; (1857), 
236; after the Civil War, 

Ships, Prices paid for, 336 

Shiverick Bros, (shipbuilders), 

Shooting Star (extreme clipper, 
1851), 157, 184 

Shoulders, Definition of, 324 

Shrouds, 352-3 

Siddons (packet, 1837), 101 

Siding, 339 

Siemssen & Co. (merchants), 

Sierra Nevada (clipper, 1854- 
77), 230 

Silvie (yacht), 179 

Simms, Thomas (runaway 
slave), in 

Sir Lancelot (Br. composite 
clipper, 1865-95), 286; his- 
tory of, 289-95; description, 
292-4; passages, 293-5; 297-8, 
302-3, 314 

Sinus (Br. pioneer transatlantic 
steamship, 1838), 44 

Sir Robert Peel (packet), 123 

Skiddy, William & Francis 
(shipowners), 80 

Skin, Ships', 337, 341 

Skyscrapers (sails), 359 

Slave Running, 33, 143 

Snal^e (H.M. gunboat), 278 

Smith, Dr. Adam, quoted, 67 

Smith, Gerrit, 161 

Smith, James (Can. ship- 
builder), 248 

Smith, Capt. John, 298 

Smith, Sydney (mate, Cutty 
Sar%), footnote, 312 

Smith & Dimon (shipbuilders), 
M. 54. 59. 62, 79 

Smuggling, 18-9, 33-4, 45 

Snccdon & Whitlock (ship- 
builders), 209 

Society of Arts, England, 136 

Somes, Joseph (Br. shipowner), 

Soto, Ferdinando, de, 15 

Soule, Pierre, 226 

South America (packet, 1832), 

Southampton (with Com. 
Perry), 279 

Southern Cross (medium clip- 
per, 1851-63), 147-8, 239 

Southern Rights Association, 
Meeting of, 159 

Sovereign of the Seas (extreme 
clipper, 1852-9) — history of, 
170-80; 173; description, 174 
et seq.; passages, 176-80; 
lines, 181; 182, 184, 194, 197, 
228, 244, 249, 252; spar di- 
mensions, 364 

Spain, U.S. trade with, 24 

Sparkling Wave (medium clip- 
per, 1853), 230 

Spencer, George John, Earl (first 
Lord of the Admiralty), 266 

Spindrift (Br. composite clipper, 
1867), 298, 302 

Spirit of the Age (Br. clipper, 
1854), 278 

Spitfire (extreme clipper, 1853- 
70's), 227 

Splendid (packet), 123 

Stability, 324-5 

Staffordshire (clipper, 185 1-3) 
— history of, 153-8; descrip- 
tion, 156-7; passages, 157-8; 
184-5; 222 

Stag Hound (extreme clipper, 
1850-61) — history of, 77-84; 
description, 81; passages, 81- 
4; lines, 85; 86, 114, 157, 

3 8o 


Stag Hound (Continued) 

161; footnote, 174; 227, 236, 
320-1, 336; spar dimensions, 
Stanley, Lord, quoted, 128 
Starboard (right side of ship), 


Star of Empire (medium clipper, 
1853-6), 192 

Station Lines, 321 

Stays, 353 

Steamboats, Mississippi, 56 

Steamships, 23, 32; speed of 
steam vs. sail, 117; races, 146 
and footnote; clippers and 
windpackets vs. steam, 154 
et seq., 213 et seq.; foot- 
note, 268-9 

Steele, Robert (Br. shipbuilder), 
286-7, 2 93> 297, 299, 301 

Steele, William (Br. naval ar- 
chitect), 286-7 

Steering Apparatus, 346 

Steers, George (naval architect), 
79, 228-9, 2 3 2 

Steers, Henry (shipbuilder), 228 

Stem, The, 319, 339 

Stemson, 340 

Sterling, Cordelia (Mrs. Robert 
Waterman), 59 

Stern, The, 319 

Sternpost, 319, 339 

Stiff Ship, Definition of, 325 

Stornoway (Br. clipper, 1850), 
141; history of, 264-71; de- 
scription, 268-70; passages, 
270; 273 

Stowing Sail, 358 

Strakes, 341 

Straubenzee, Sir Charles (Br. 
major-general), 280 

Stuart, James, Hanging of, 97 

Studding Sails, 358 

Stuyvesant, Rutherford (yacht 
owner), 102 

Suez Canal, Opening of, 37, 306 

Sultana (barque, 1850), 81 

Sunny South (extreme clipper, 
1854) — history of, 225-32; 
description, 229; passages, 
229, 231-2 

Supply (U.S. store-ship with 
Com. Perry), 279 

Surp-ise (clipper, 1850-76) — 
history of, 70-5; description, 
73-4; passages, 74-5; chart of 
passage, 76; 82-3, 96, 108, 
141, 145; spar dimensions, 
364; log, 365-7 

Susquehanna (with Com. 
Perry), 279 

Sutter, John, 60-1 

Sutter's Fort, California, 61 

Swallow (Br. clipper), 257 

Swallow Tail Line of Packets, 

Swedenborg, Emanuel (Sw. 
mystic), 138 

Sweepstakes (extreme clipper, 
1853-62) — history of, 199- 
203; description, 199; pas- 
sages, 201-3; 231, 2 36 

Swordfish (extreme clipper, 
1851-62), 117, 124; history 

of, 159-67; description, 161- 

2; passages, 162-8; lines, 169; 

184, 195, 222-3 
Symons, Capt. William, 173 
Syren (medium clipper, 1851- 

1920), 240, 315 

Tackle Work, 352 

Taeping (Br. composite clipper, 
1863-72) — history of, 282-8; 
description, 286; passages, 
287-8; 292, 297-8, 302 

Taffrail, 343 

Taitsing (Br. composite clipper, 
1865-83), 286, 291-2, 303 

Talbot, Capt. Silas, 20 

Talisman (medium clipper, 
1854-63), 211 

Tampico (brig), 101 

Taney (U.S. schooner), 94 

Tariffs, U.S. — on imports, 33; 
reduced, 55 

Tay (Br. steamship), 173 

Tay, Capt. Benjamin, 109 

Taylor, Isaac (shipbuilder), 199 

Taylor, John (shipbuilder), 219, 

Taylor, Robert L. (shipowner), 
87, 196 

Taylor & Potter (Br. shipown- 
ers), 274 

Tea Races, 36-7; reasons for, 
276; 289; (1866), 291-2; 
(1867), 297-8; (1868), 298; 
(1869), 302-3 

Telegraph (extreme clipper, 
1851-68), 90-1, 131, 150, 
223, 227, 237 

Teutonic (Br. mercantile cruiser, 
1889), 246 

Thackeray, William Makepeace 

— quoted, 137; 138 

Thermopylae (Br. composite 
clipper, 1 868-1907), 293, 297; 
history of, 301-4; descrip- 
tion, 301-2; passages, 302-4; 
chart, passages, 305; lines, 
305; 308-9, 311, 314 

The Tweed (Br. ship, Ex- 
Punjaub), 307, 314 

Thickstuff, 341 

Thomas, Capt., 119 

Thomas, George (shipbuilder), 
219, 244 

Thompson, George (Br. ship- 
owner), 301 

Thoreau, Henry D., 139 

Thorwald (Viking mariner), 15 

Three Bells (Br. ship), 222 

Tiger (galiot, burned 1613), 16 

Tiller, 343-4 

Timber, Selection of, for Ship- 
building, 334 et seq. 

Timbers, Cross, Long, and Short 
Top, 340 

Tinqua (extreme clipper, 1852- 
55), 183, 231 

Tiptaft, Capt., 31 1-2 

Titania (Br. composite clipper, 
1866-1910) — history of, 297- 
300; description, 297; pas- 
sages, 297-300, 303, 312 

Tobey & Littlefield (shipbuild- 
ers), 200, 218 

Tom Thumb's Wedding, 238 

Tonnage — (New England, 
1627), 17; (cleared, 1771), 
19; (1789-91), 24; footnote, 
25; packets, 31; (old tonnage 
rules), 32 

Tontine Coffee House, 13 

Topsails, To Set or Take In, 357 

Tornado (clipper, 1852-75), 231 

Toronto (packet, 1835), 31, 

Torrington (Br. opium clipper), 

Trade Wind (extreme clipper, 
1851-4), 90, 149 and foot- 
note, 150, 164, 183-4, 222, 

Train, Enoch (shipowner), 30, 
80, 113, i57» 252 

Train, Enoch, & Co. (ship- 
owners), 113, 153, 244 

Train, George Francis, quoted, 
113, 174 and footnote 

Transit (Br. experimental ves- 
sel, 1800), 266-7; lines, 272 

Treaties — (U. S. and France, 
1778), 20; (U. S. and Great 
Britain, 1782), 22; (Jay's 
Treaty), 25; (Treaty of 
Ghent), 29; (U. S. and 
China), 45, 55; (Treaty of 
Guadalupe Hidalgo), 61; 
(England, France and the 
Porte), 208; (U. S. and 
Japan), 226, 279; (U. S. and 
Canada), 226, 235 

Treaty Ports, 35, 45, 54; (1853- 
60), 278 et seq. 

Treenails, 338-9 and footnote 

Trim, 323, (rules for), 328 

Trimmed by the Head (defini- 
tion), 323 

Trimmed by the Stern (Defini- 
tion), 323 

Trufant & Drummond (ship- 
builders), 199, 219 

Trumbull (early man-of-war), 

Tubal Cain (Br., first composite 
seagoing vessel), 286 

Tudor Ice Company, 275 

Turner, J. M. W. (marine 
painter), 163 

Twilight (medium clipper, 
1857-77) — history of, 234-41; 
description, 237; passages, 
237; 240 

Typhoon (extreme clipper, 
1851-70's), 145, 227 

Tyrannicide (armed sloop), 21 

Ugarte, Don Juan de, 189 
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Publication 

of, 171 
Undine (Br. clipper, 1867), 298, 

United Kingdom (Br. steam- 
ship), 286 
United States (steamship), 67 
United States (U.S. frigate), 101 
United States Mail Steamship 

Company, 173 
Unity (Colonial immigrant 
ship), 16 



Upton, George B. (shipowner), 
75, 82, 218 

Valparaiso, Chile, 96 

Vandalia (with Com. Perry), 

Vangs, 352 

Vanguard (packet), 123 
Ventilators, 344 

Verdi, Giuseppe (Ital. com- 
poser), 37 
Vernon, Lord, 267 
Vesta (Fr. steamer), 229 
"Viator," quoted, 128-30 
Victoria, Queen of England, 

137, 258, 264 
Viccory (clipper packet, 1857), 

Vigilance, Committee of, 

(Boston), in 
Vigilance, Committee of (San 

Francisco), 97, 132; 161 
Vigilantes, First Meeting of 

(San Francisco), 97 
Vising (clipper, 1853-63), 219 
Vincent, Mr. (midshipman, 

Amazon), quoted, 171-2 
Virginia (pinnace, 1607), 16 
Virginia (early man-of-war), 22 
Visram, Ibrahim, Messrs. (ship- 
owners), 295 
Voltaire (ship), 25 
Vorheese, Lieut.-Com., 42 

Wade, Benjamin F., 225 
Walch, J. C, Lieut.-Com., 

U.S.N., 94 
Wales, 341 
Walker, Capt., 41 
Wallace, Capt., 312 
Wallace, Sir James, 22 
War of 1 812, 25 et seq. 
Wardley & Co., (Br. mer- 
chants), 280 
Warner, Capt. Henry, 179 
Warner (clipper, 1851), 223 
Warner, Susan (author), 139 
Warren (early man-of-war), 

Warren, Capt. Joseph, 237 
Warrior (Br. convict ship), 163 
Washington (early man-of-war), 

Washington (early sloop), 147 
Washington, George, Equips 

Armed Vessels, 20 
Washington Irving (packet, 

1845), 80 
Wasp (sloop-of-war), 332 
Watches on board ship, 346 
Waterline (or Lift) Model, 23, 

Waterman, Capt. Robert, 59, 

62-3, 67, 124 et seq., 131 

et seq., 228, 328 
Water Sails, 358 
Water Witch (clipper, 1853), 

193, 231 

Watson, Mr. (Ir. inventor com- 
posite construction), 286 

Waverly (clipper, 1853-62), 188 

Weatherliness, 326-7 

Webb, Isaac (shipbuilder), 79, 
123, 125, 176 

Webb, William H. (ship- 
builder), 45, 79, 94, 117, 
123-4, 161-2, 183, 191, 

193-4. 307 
Webb & Allen (shipbuilders), 

Webster, Daniel, 86, n 1-2, 139, 
159, 170 

Wells, David A., on smuggling, 

Westervelt, Daniel (shipbuilder), 
footnote, 149 

Westervelt, Daniel & Aaron 
(shipbuilders), 199 

Westervelt, Jacob A. (ship- 
builder), 99-100; footnote, 
173; 183, 192 

Westervelt & Mackay (ship- 
builders), 100 

West India Mail Steamship 
Company, 172 

Westward Ho (Extreme clipper, 
1852-64), history of, 182-9; 
description, 183-4; passages, 
184-6, 188-9; 2I °> 222 > 22 7> 
230, 236, 248; spar dimen- 
sions, 364 

West Wind (medium clipper, 
1853), 192 

Weymouth, Bernard (sec. 
Lloyd's Register), 295, 301 

Wheel, Wheel Ropes, 343-4 

Whig Party, The, 170 

Whipple, Capt. (later Com.), 
Abraham, 22 

Whirlwind (extreme clipper, 
1852), 150 

Whistler (clipper, 1853-5), J 99> 

Whiteadder (Br. clipper, 1862), 

White Diamond Line, 30, 80, 
153 et seq., 244 

White Falcon (clipper, 1853- 
66), 188 

White Squall (extreme clipper, 
1850-77), 78, 82, 183, 185, 
209, 269 

White Star Line (Br.), 244-6 

White Swallow (extreme clip- 
per, 1853-71), 192 

Whitney, Eli, 24 

Wild Deer (Br. clipper, 1863- 
1883), 298 

Wild Duc\ (clipper, 1853-6), 

Wildfire (clipper barque, 1853), 

Wild Pigeon (extreme clipper, 

1851-92), 165, 184-5, 2 4° 

Wild Ranger (clipper, 1853-72), 

151, 193-4 

Williams, Jabez (shipbuilder), 95 

Willis, Capt. John (Br. ship- 
owner), 307-9. 3". 313-4, 

Willis, John, & Son (Br. ship- 
owners), 307 

Wilson, Capt., 84 

Wilson, Capt. Joseph (Br.), 


Windlass, 344, 348 

Winged Arrow (medium clip- 
per, 1852-70's), 183 

Winged Racer (clipper, 1852- 
63), 188-9, 222 > 2 39 

Wing-Sunn (passage-boat, 
China), 280 

Winsor, Capt., 119 

Winthrop, John (Gov. Mass. 
Colony), 17 

Winthrop, Robert C, 148 

Wisconsin (ship, 1847), 2 ^9 

Witchcraft (extreme clipper, 
1850-61), 78, 87, 89-91, 133, 
145, 147, 227 

Witch of the Wave (extreme 
clipper, 1851-70's) — history 
of, 106-9; description, 107; 
passages, 108-9; lines, no; 
141, 146, 183, 223, 269; 
spar dimensions, 364 

Witch of the Wave (second of 
name, 1856), 109 

Wizard (extreme clipper, 1853- 
74), 200, 228 

Wolfe, Capt., 102 

Woodget, Capt., 310, 313 

Woodhull, C. S. (Mayor, New 
York City), 94 

Woodward, Capt. David, 129 

Worcester and Western Rail- 
road, 154 

Wright, Peter, & Son (ship- 
owners), 224 

Wye (Br. convict ship), 163 

Wylo (Br. composite clipper, 
1869), 297, 299 

Yang-tze (Br. composite clip- 
per, 1863-71), 286, 298, 302 

Yards — size of, 330-1; names 
and parts of, 351-2; sizes of, 
on specific clippers, 364 

Yellow Fever, Epidemic, 200, 

Yorkshire (packet), 56, 123 

Yorkfown (packet), 123 

Young America (extreme clip- 
per, 1853-86) — history of, 
191-7; description, 193; pas- 
sages, 194-7; lines, 198 

Young Australia (ex-Red 
Rover), 261 

Young Brander (clipper, 1853- 
73), 2 3i 

Zerega & Company (owners "Z" 

Line of Packets), 80 
Ziba (Br. clipper, 1858), 278 


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